Short Bytes: To solve the year-old Victor Collins murder mystery, the Arkansas police is trying to obtain an Amazon Echo’s recorded audio data stored on the cloud servers maintained by Amazon. The Echo was present at the house where the crime was committed.You never know what your always-on internet-connected Amazon Echo is capable of doing. It might listen to your conversations while you’re committing a murder and disposing of the body. All of that might not be possible altogether because Amazon Echo is activated by saying the trigger word “Alexa.” The commands are then stored and processed on Amazon’s cloud servers. Chances are less a person would want to listen to some relaxing music while he is killing another person.
The Arkansas police working on the case might be thinking something else. That’s why the police obtained a search warrant and asked Amazon to give them the voice commands recorded by the Echo device belonging to James Bates. Bates is the accused in the first-degree murder case of Victor Collins which came to light on the morning of November 22, 2015, after Bates himself called 911.
It might not be possible directly, but the police believe Echo might’ve recorded something, maybe someone unknowingly activated it at the night of the crime. On the other hand, Amazon declined to provide the audio records related to the device, given the lack of a valid legal demand.
In another lead, the Arkansas police analyzed the data from Bates’s smart water meter which recorded the use of 140 gallons of water use on the murder night between 1 am and 3 am when Collins was found dead in the hot tub on the back patio at Bates’s house. It is believed that the water was used to clear evidence traces in the patio. Bates’ is currently out on bail and his trial is due for 2017.
The investigation process puts upfront the question of privacy and the increasing count of IoT devices in people’s lives. We can still recall the heated story of how FBI was eager to unlock the iPhone of the person involved in the San Bernardino shooting case to extract some information.
The devices around us are not deaf and dumb. We don’t know what camera eye is staring at us in the crowd or if a voice assistant is making audio records of every word we say. Every moment of our lives is getting logged somewhere.
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