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March 7, 2017

Amazon Echo called as witness in murder trial

The case relates to the 2015 alleged murder of Victor Collins.

By Ellie Burns

Amazon has backed down in a dispute regarding customer privacy, agreeing to hand over Amazon Echo data that may have recorded key information relating to a 2015 alleged murder.

Following consent from the defendant in the case, the tech giant is handing over data from the smart home device, which may have been operating when the alleged murder took place.

Previously, Amazon had denied requests for the data, arguing that it violated its customer privacy terms.

The case relates to the death of Victor Collins, who was found dead in a hot tub in Arkansas in November 2015. Andrew Bates, the victim’s friend, denies murdering him.

Amazon Echo murder trial

An Amazon Echo at the scene of the crime is thought by prosecutors to have captured audio from the scene as it scanned for commands. The smart hub is ‘always on’, meaning that the device makes recordings of audio it hears from a fraction of a second before it detects a command word. The captured data goes to Amazon’s servers.

According to a witness in the case, music was streaming from the Echo on the night of the murder.

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The defendant Andrew Bates consented to the use of the Echo data, stating that he had been asleep at the time of the murder and that the data could uncover what happened to Mr Collins on the night he died.

The case continues, with a hearing scheduled for Wednesday 8 March.

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