Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation they have asked Amazon to hand over any recordings made between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub. A bloke with a name like Bates must be the bloke wot dunnit and they are hoping his Amazon gear will say what happened.
While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device. While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.
Amazon stores all the voice recordings on its servers, in the hopes of using the data to improve its voice assistant services. While you can delete your personal voice data, there’s still no way to prevent any recordings from being saved on a server.
“It is believed that these records are retained by Amazon.com and that they are evidence related to the case under investigation,” police wrote in the search warrant.
Amazon has not sent any recordings to the officers but did provide Bates’ account information to authorities, according to court documents. The retailer giant said it doesn’t release customer information without a “valid and binding legal demand.”
“Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course,” the company said in a statement.
Coppers might be able to make the Echo crack. Officers believe they can tap into the hardware on the smart speakers, which could “potentially include time stamps, audio files or other data.”
The investigation has focused on other smart devices as well. Officers seized Bates’ phone but were unable to break through his password, which only served to delay the investigation.
Gear that coppers are hoping might reveal information include a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, wireless weather monitoring in the backyard and WeMo devices for lighting at the smart home crime scene.
The smart meter appeared to reveal that Bates used an “excessive amount of water” during the alleged drowning.