If you received an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot smart device as a holiday gift, you’re not alone. The company reported that sales of the devices are up nine times over last year, to the tune of millions of units sold.
The smart speakers can be useful in many ways, some more unexpected than others. In Arkansas, according to tech blog CNET, police are requesting voice data from the devices to help in a murder investigation.
According to the tech site, Echo devices only record after hearing a “wake word,” or voice trigger meant to jolt the Echo into operation. But while users can delete their personal voice data, Amazon stores all recordings on its servers, mining the records for information to improve user experience.
That’s why Arkansas police are hoping to pick up ambient noise or background sounds that may have been picked up by the Echo when a man was strangled to death in a hot tub. The department has filed a search warrant to Amazon, though Mashable reports that Amazon has thus far refused to comply.
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The case is the latest in a discussion of technology and the right to privacy. While an Arkansas prosecutor told Mashable he believes Amazon legally must comply with the search warrant, how the case progresses could set a precedent for how data from smart devices is handled in the future.