Extract from article by Gabe Friedman
In a sign of how internet-connected devices could transform the legal system, a prosecutor in Arkansas is fighting to collect evidence from an Amazon Echo, which could hold sound recordings that reveal details about who committed a murder.
The Echo, also known as ‘Alexa’ is a cylindrical, 9-inch high speaker sold by Amazon that connects to the internet and that users place in their home. It listens and responds to voice commands, similar to Apple’s ‘Siri,’ and can search the internet, play music, tell jokes and perform other voice-activated tasks.
The device is controversial to privacy advocates because it has a continuous listening loop, and when the wake word is spoken — Alexa — it transmits a recording of any sounds, including ambient background noise from just before and after the wake word to the Amazon cloud. As a result, there are now listening devices inside people’s homes, constantly capturing snippets of people’s daily lives.