Recently, the Amazon Echo smart speaker has been at the center of a murder case which raises lots of questions about consumer privacy and the role that technology can play in our lives.
The case revolves around the “accidental” death of a 31 year old man named James Bates. James was found face down in a hot tub the morning after having several drinks with his friends. The voice-activated Echo, AKA Alexa, happened to have been in the periphery playing music throughout the night. But was Alexa just playing music, or was she eavesdropping on all of the alleged details of foul play during the night?
It appears that Echo can do a lot more than jut answer Wiki worthy questions or play your favorite playlist, and what’s more disturbing is that the prosecutor is fighting for the ability to use Echo in court as evidence.
How? ‘According to Amazon, Echo works by constantly listening for the “wake word” — “Alexa” or “Amazon,” by default — and then records your voice and transfers it to a processor for analysis so that it can fulfill requests or answer questions. The recordings are streamed and stored remotely, and can be reviewed or deleted over time, Amazon says. ‘
How much of our privacy are we willing to sacrifice in order to live alongside technology? Echo isn’t the first device to spy on us. The iPhone, as many of us already know, records everywhere we go! That’s completely fine for most people as they tend to think, why would it matter if you’ve got nothing to hide? Well, I am sure your privacy will matter a lot when you’re trying to make your flight, but you get randomly chosen to have your phone and its apps inspected by airport security. Do you really want others to know your exact geographic coordinates from the night before the flight? Or what kind of pics you share on your dating apps?
Technology has done a lot to improve our daily lives, it makes things easier, faster, less strenuous. But how do we adapt to a world where these cherished smart devices can store just about every move or sound we make only to use it against us like a vindictive ex lover?
I guess we’ll have stay tuned for Alexa’s day in court.