If you have an Amazon Echo, a Google Home or similar smart device, you know the machine is always waiting for you to issue commands using its “wake word.” But that means the machine is always listening, even if it’s not always recording. Like all new technologies, the implications are still being figured out, but a recent court case is exploring whether these recordings should or should not be subject to police warrants. Here’s what you should know courtesy of San Marcos criminal lawyer Peter M. Liss.
While these devices are only triggered to record when a wake word, like “Alexa,” “Ok Google,” etc. is used to perform an activity, sometimes people say things that sound similar enough to the the wake words to activate the device unintentionally and on rare occasion, even background noises or TV audio can trigger the record feature. When a man was recently murdered within audio distance of his Amazon Echo, police reached out to Amazon to see if the device was triggered to record while it happened -possibly evidence against the person who committed the crime. Amazon declined the police request in an effort to keep protecting their user’s privacy. Escondido criminal attorneys are largely praising the move for its long-term consequences.
No one wants to help murderers get away with taking lives, but just like those murderers deserve attorneys, everyone deserves their right to privacy in their home. Sure, Amazon could help police in a case where their user was killed, but then when an Amazon user is accused of murder, the police will immediately seek access to that person’s records. Soon enough, police could start asking Amazon for help collecting evidence against any Echo user. Setting up a dangerous legal precedent by helping the police solve this murder will ultimately hurt Amazon’s customer base as a whole.
Of course, until these matters are fully settled under the law, it is advisable to be cautious with your smart devices or to avoid owning one altogether. Push button devices only record when users hit a button and even the audio-triggered devices offer mute buttons, so if you are talking about something sensitive, you may want to mute your machine first. Of course, even if Amazon, Google or other company does offer to provide recordings to police in order to be used against you, your Fallbrook criminal attorney may be able to fight from having these records used in court.
If you have any questions about smart devices and how they may affect the criminal law system, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Rancho Bernardo defense lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Rick Turoczy