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Tuesday, March 07, 2017
Amazon Delivers Echo Data in Murder Case


Amazon agreed to hand over user data of an Amazon Echo speaker for a murder trial in Arkansas, after it spent months pushing back against a warrant for the information.



The company changed its position after the user, defendant James Andrew Bates, consented to the disclosure, according to a court filing that was made public Monday.

Before Bates consented, Amazon just last month offered a strong defense against releasing the user information, with the company saying Bates' audio recordings with the Echo were protected under the First Amendment.

Amazon on March 3 handed over the data, which amounted to any audio recordings stored by the company that came from Bates' Echo from November 21 to 22, 2015.

The case offered an early hint at the possible legal complications posed by emerging smart home and internet of things products, which can track users' activities and movements. However, the case ended without setting any legal precedent.

Bates has been charged with first-degree murder in the 2015 death of Victor Collins, who was found dead in a hot tub at Bates' home. After finding an Amazon Echo speaker in the house, investigators sent Amazon a warrant, asking for recordings stored by the voice-activated device, which can be queried to tell a user the weather, turn on the lights and order products on Amazon.com.



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