Your echo can lead to violation of your privacy!


Real instance shows how your echo can lead to violation of your privacy. There are no rules to guide it. So, it fully depend on us how we take it.

In November 2015, James Bates invited his friends at his house in Bentonville, Ark to watch a Razorbacks football game. The next morning Victor Collins was dead in the hot tub of Bates. Bate was under the charge of murder but he pled not guilty. But something interesting was found by police under their investigation. He had an Amazon Echo which is something like Siri for home. It is the popular black cylinder that always keep listening for questions and voice commands.

The police tried to investigate Amazon with a search warrant with a hope that recording of the Echo was made on that night. This might give clues and that is why it was a slim hope. The Echo listens all the time but before the beginning of any request, one must utter the word “Alexa”. Transmission or creation of recording is not possible without uttering this word. After saying this, the bright blue LED lights of Echo lights up after which your request is send to computer of Amazon for answering.

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Amazon helped police by giving the purchase and subscribe information of the customer. But completely refused to give any information regarding what Bates said to Echo. The company stated that “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise unsuitable demands as a matter of course”. The said that if they provide that audio to the police. If they do so then public will think that the company record conversations at their home and then make it available to the law enforcement. This will bring their Echo product to end.

This was not for first time that the electronics company has refused to cooperate with the police on the grounds of privacy. Legally, Amazon could land in some hot water of its own. The company held in contempt of court for its refusal to cooperate with the law. This case will likely to go for trial this year and still law hopes to work something out with Amazon. But if the company refuses then Peter Guffin, who heads up the privacy and data security practice at law firm Pierce Atwood may take it to court.

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The conflict will become more frequent. This year, International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Echo compatibility is the hottest trend. Many appliances can respond to your commands you speak to your Echo such as refrigerators, security cameras, air purifiers and more.

As we fill our home with appliances and machines, they are always listening and watching us. It is a clash between electronic privacy and law enforcement. There are no such laws that govern this. The Internet of Listening Things now depend on us.


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