Et Tu, Echo?

The International Business Times reports, “Amazon Says Alexa Protected by First Amendment, Will Not Hand Over Evidence in Murder Case.” Police insist Amazon produce recordings from an Echo speaker found streaming music at the scene of a 2013 drowning in Arkansas, hoping they will demonstrate whether the death was an accident or a homicide. Writer Agamoni Ghosh summarizes Amazon’s position:

The company says the AI-based speaker is protected by the First Amendment and that both user’s commands and the device’s response come under protected speech.”

The Echo’s owner is a suspect in the case. Amazon has relinquished associated subscriber information and purchase history, but say prosecutors have not made a strong enough case for access to the recordings. What would make a case strong enough?

Cynthia Murrell, March 27, 2017