Alexa’s latest Skill? Witness in a murder trial

Voice data from an Amazon Echo owned by a man accused of murder will be reviewed by investigators.

Amazon had initially denied the request from police in Arkansas for data transmitted by James Bates’ smart home speaker due to freedom of speech and consumer privacy concerns.

However, Bates, who faces trial for the murder of a man found dead in a hot tub at his home, has agreed to let police review just what Alexa heard (via TechCrunch).

Bates has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Victor Collins.

Alexa isn’t supposed to record audio unless activated by using her name (or Amazon or Echo) specifically, while those recordings are also synced to the companion app where they can be played back.

With that in mind it’ll be interesting for all Echo users to see exactly what Alexa is recording while sitting (supposedly) inactive in a private residence
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Related: Amazon Echo – Best skills

A briefing scheduled for Wednesday should offer more insight.

That’s not where the Internet of Things’ role in the case ends, either.

Bates also has a smart home gadget that registered 140 gallons of water had been used on the night the alleged crime was committed, with investigators claiming that may have been used to wash away evidence.

It is not yet clear whether the data from smart home appliances will be admissible in the trial.


Does this story make you less inclined to allow smart home assistants like Alexa in to your home? Share your thoughts in the comments below.