Last December, the Police Department requested Amazon to reveal the data stored in an Echo found at a crime scene in Arkansas. The case involved a victim found dead in a hot tub with the Echo was playing music in the bathroom.
The Echo contains several microphones that can pick up sounds from anywhere in a room and store it in Amazon’s cloud, which could possibly hold clues as to how the victim died. However, Amazon refuses to be part of the investigation.
In a bid to protect customer data, Amazon filed a motion arguing the turnover of the recordings.
“Amazon does not seek to obstruct any lawful investigation, but rather seeks to protect the privacy rights of its customers when the government is seeking their data from Amazon, especially when that data may include expressive content protected by the First Amendment. As courts have observed the fear of government tracking and censoring one’s reading, listening and viewing choices chills the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
Amazon points out that this could affect the sales of Alexa-enabled devices and other devices that rely on voice commands, causing users to feel afraid of speaking freely within their homes.
But according to the statement, the e-commerce giant isn’t arguing that the government can never have access to the Alexa recordings. Rather, “Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on them.”
As of today, prosecutors haven’t issued a response to Amazon’s motion and no hearing on the matter has been scheduled yet.