Police Seek Amazon Echo Data In Murder Case

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Be careful what you say around your Amazon Echo, you never know when it will be used against you in court. Amazon says that it will not release any information to the authorities "without a valid and binding legal demand" but that doesn't mean prosecutors wont be back with a warrant.

Amazon declined to give police any of the information that the Echo logged on its servers, but it did hand over Bates' account details and purchases. Police say they were able to pull data off of the speaker, but it's unclear what info they were able to access. Due to the so-called always on nature of the connected device, the authorities are after any audio the speaker may have picked up that night. Sure, the Echo is activated by certain words, but it's not uncommon for the IoT gadget to be alerted to listen by accident.
 

steakman1971

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Unless you say the trigger word (Alexa, Echo, Amazon - depends on how you have it set up), there isn't much data going to Amazon. It looks like the equivalent of a periodic ping-type signal. So, unless they were asking Alexa how to dispose of a body, etc - not sure how useful it would be.
 

Dullard

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Having a device in your home, connected to the internet, that has the sole purpose of listening to what is being said in the home is a bad idea? Get outta here!
 

Ur_Mom

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Unless you say the trigger word (Alexa, Echo, Amazon - depends on how you have it set up), there isn't much data going to Amazon. It looks like the equivalent of a periodic ping-type signal. So, unless they were asking Alexa how to dispose of a body, etc - not sure how useful it would be.
Yea, this came out somewhere else, too. Unless you say the trigger word, it's not sending any data. People have done Wireshark captures and it's silent until that trigger word.

Maybe finding out if he was home at a certain time, looking up certain things, etc.. Similar to the "she doesn't drink coffee, and there was a warm cup here... someone was here, and they made themselves at home. I think it was the Professor with the gun in the library".
 

steakman1971

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Yea, this came out somewhere else, too. Unless you say the trigger word, it's not sending any data. People have done Wireshark captures and it's silent until that trigger word.

Maybe finding out if he was home at a certain time, looking up certain things, etc.. Similar to the "she doesn't drink coffee, and there was a warm cup here... someone was here, and they made themselves at home. I think it was the Professor with the gun in the library".
Good point there - wasn't thinking along those lines.
One thing I'd be curious about is if Amazon stores the actual voices. I would assume they do so they can analyze/improve services. Not exactly related to this thread, but it would be a great feature if the Echo could distinguish who is giving the voice command. As an example, if I want to buy something - I'm ok with it. If one of my kids does, no - they need permission.
 

auntjemima

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Good point there - wasn't thinking along those lines.
One thing I'd be curious about is if Amazon stores the actual voices. I would assume they do so they can analyze/improve services. Not exactly related to this thread, but it would be a great feature if the Echo could distinguish who is giving the voice command. As an example, if I want to buy something - I'm ok with it. If one of my kids does, no - they need permission.
If Echo is anything like Okay Google then it knows your voice. At the beginning it's a bit finicky but over time it learns the way you say things and adapts too.
 

Ur_Mom

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Good point there - wasn't thinking along those lines.
One thing I'd be curious about is if Amazon stores the actual voices. I would assume they do so they can analyze/improve services. Not exactly related to this thread, but it would be a great feature if the Echo could distinguish who is giving the voice command. As an example, if I want to buy something - I'm ok with it. If one of my kids does, no - they need permission.
I know with Microsoft, they store the voice commands from users. It's just anonymized. Not sure if the voices are changed via tone or what, but it's supposedly a different voice and no PII. I'm assuming it's similar with Amazon.

Alexa is still a WIP. I want every Alexa device (Echo, Echo Dot) to communicate together (mesh/cluster/whatever). So, if I say "Turn on the lights", it'll turn on the lights in that room only. Or like you said - person specific commands. Some work, some don't. "Play music" would play the last playlist from that certain user if it's not specified to what playlist to play. Lots of possibilities with Alexa. Just takes more horsepower to do it.

Sadly, I'm at work. I have an Echo and an Echo Dot waiting for me at home. Just delivered today. I get to play with them in about 2 hours... :) Going for some SmartThings integration as well. Told the wife I'm ordering some GE switches. No go for now. Waiting a couple months before I get those, I guess.

I love the technical stuff and home automation, but the 'prepper' in me feels really fucked. If SHTF, my house is dead. I have to have manual things set for other stuff, too.
 

drakken

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so there is a dead body in the tub... and the cops know that while they might not actually be able to use the data the data might lead to some where they can find evidence and might also help pin point the time of death. A person in a bath tub for a number of hours is going to be like a processor that dies a thermal death then is dunked in water to put out the fire. room temperature. basically the body uses methane gas to regulate how much oxygen to mix with various chemicals to heat or cool the blood which when the heart pumps the blood around cools or heats the body. The body when it no longer has the ability to regulate the methane gas cools and heats at a set rate based on the insulation of the body and movement and bunch of other really boring things. So as long as the guy in the tub was not gay if he had been laying on the floor they could have measured his liver or heart's temperature and figured out how long he had been dead being in a bath tub they have to figure out when he died to figure where he might have been before to find any public security camera or atm machine which can be used because of two things one they always connected to the network so that the data can be verified and two because the data is not stored on the machine but on a server that is time stamped and it goes through a bunch of independent machines that verify the data was no spoofed and log copies.

Also if there is another person's voice it lets them to look for someone else who might have evidence. If you read the text of the 5th is says you can not be a witness against himself(themself) since you have a right to face your accuser... someone's voice saying they did it is pointless as evidence of a crime but a smoking gun with their finger prints on it suggests that they held the gun and that it was fired. It is reasonable then to say they held the gun and it was fired but not to say they shoot someone. You need more evidence for that. Plus testimony is only used corroborate facts in evidence, this means that you have to something physical like a water meter that says you used 140 gallons of water and bullets that went through the victim... that actually prove beyond any reasonable doubt. Like wise if you find two people passed out in a room and the dock has a lock that can be controlled from outside it is plausible the person with the gun in their hand was framed. Pretty much it a series of things that all interdependently corroborate a crime that suggest guilt but it is a jury of the person's peers that find guilt or innocence.
 

Dead Parrot

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If you insist on installing and using "Spy on Me" devices, expect that law enforcement will make use of all of the collected information if they ever take an interest in you. Keep in mind that we wouldn't be appending -gate to signify scandals if President Nixon hadn't thought that installing and using a tape recorder in his office was a good idea.
 

Spidey329

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Yea, this came out somewhere else, too. Unless you say the trigger word, it's not sending any data. People have done Wireshark captures and it's silent until that trigger word.

Maybe finding out if he was home at a certain time, looking up certain things, etc.. Similar to the "she doesn't drink coffee, and there was a warm cup here... someone was here, and they made themselves at home. I think it was the Professor with the gun in the library".
I'm just going to assume that certain agencies probably have the ability to activate it as well.
 

Spidey329

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If you read the text of the 5th is says you can not be a witness against himself(themself) since you have a right to face your accuser...

Not sure what that has to do with it. If Alexa was triggered and recorded him (or someone) saying something incriminating, it can and will be used against them as evidence. The 5th protects against being compelled to testify against yourself, it does not protect against providing evidence against yourself inadvertently. A recording of you saying "yo Alexa, I just murdered this dude" is not testimony, it's evidence. Do you have to tell them that you made such a recording? No. But if they find it by legal methods, it's fair game.

The only legal challenges can be if you live in a two party consent state and you had a reasonable expectation of privacy without waving your right to not be recorded, then it's possible to get the recording excluded. However, if you're in another person's house, your expectation of privacy can be challenged just as if you installed the device in your own house (thus waving your own right, since you accept it could be listening).
 
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Ur_Mom

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I'm just going to assume that certain agencies probably have the ability to activate it as well.
I'm sure they have the capability. For the average person, though - why waste resources? Would it store all that data 'just in case'? I'm fairly tin foil hat myself, but 99.999% or so of people are talking about absolutely nothing of significance. If the NSA wants to hear about my poop, what's for dinner, how I'm getting fatter, or my doing my wife (well, maybe that last one... I've seen a couple of those NSA analysts... :) ), fine. I don't think it'd be random monitoring of the whole population. That tiny bit of population that might be doing something bad would have to get on a 'list' somewhere. But, I doubt it'd be Alexa, Siri, Cortana or other AI.
 

Ducman69

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Call me a tinfoil hat if you want. Who voluntarily adds an internet connected built by the lowest bidder from a company driven by sales always on listening device in their own home.
Someone like me that knows that they are nobody of significance, and the only thing it would regularly capture would be a few cat meows, an occasional fart, and video game noises. People often overestimate how important they are, and fail to think about WHY anyone would care to listen to what happens in their home.
 
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You mean like any Android based smart phone?
And anything "smart".

Someone like me that knows that they are nobody of significance, and the only thing it would regularly capture would be a few cat meows, an occasional fart, and video game noises. People often overestimate how important they are, and fail to think about WHY anyone would care to listen to what happens in their home.
I like a life of quiet and privacy with my job being what it is and to protect my family. I understand a lot of people want luxuries in life with trade offs of privacy or control. Having ears other than the people I know in my house is not something I'm willing to accept.
 

Ducman69

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and to protect my family.
Protect your family from a court order to a mega-corporation for access to recordings that probably don't even exist unless you said "Alexa" trigger word first? What do you imagine your family is saying to Alexa that would put them in danger if the government knew? Are they asking Alexa how to get in touch with ISIS or something? LOL!

The government would have to go through a lot of red tape and effort to get my grocery shopping list and my voice commands to turn off lights and what not.

And as was mentioned, the NSA can listen to you via your cellphone anyway.
 

B00nie

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Having a device in your home, connected to the internet, that has the sole purpose of listening to what is being said in the home is a bad idea? Get outta here!
The communist regime in DDR did this already before the internet. Nothing new.
 

Darunion

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And anything "smart".



I like a life of quiet and privacy with my job being what it is and to protect my family. I understand a lot of people want luxuries in life with trade offs of privacy or control. Having ears other than the people I know in my house is not something I'm willing to accept.
Yea, the Amish life isn't really for me though. As anything connected to the internet can be used in profiling, you would have to live the equivalent of early 1900's and not use a bank or cell phone or work anywhere that collects taxes. I guess it is where each person draws the line between "I don't care" and "I won't accept this" and as long as someone is happy with their line, does it matter? Hell, I actually get in more issues with people overhearing what I say in person than I do with any digital device haha!
 

steakman1971

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I know with Microsoft, they store the voice commands from users. It's just anonymized. Not sure if the voices are changed via tone or what, but it's supposedly a different voice and no PII. I'm assuming it's similar with Amazon.

Alexa is still a WIP. I want every Alexa device (Echo, Echo Dot) to communicate together (mesh/cluster/whatever). So, if I say "Turn on the lights", it'll turn on the lights in that room only. Or like you said - person specific commands. Some work, some don't. "Play music" would play the last playlist from that certain user if it's not specified to what playlist to play. Lots of possibilities with Alexa. Just takes more horsepower to do it.

Sadly, I'm at work. I have an Echo and an Echo Dot waiting for me at home. Just delivered today. I get to play with them in about 2 hours... :) Going for some SmartThings integration as well. Told the wife I'm ordering some GE switches. No go for now. Waiting a couple months before I get those, I guess.

I love the technical stuff and home automation, but the 'prepper' in me feels really fucked. If SHTF, my house is dead. I have to have manual things set for other stuff, too.
The GE switches are awesome. I've been slowly upgrading my rooms. I started with the family room and moved on to the kitchen. I have a Wink 2 hub integrated with my Echo's (so far, have 1 Echo in the family room, and 4 Dots spread across the house - getting close to full house coverage for home automation). My main use for Alexa is home automation.
Your ideas are spot on for where voice platforms need to go. They also need (hate to say it) push notifications. I would like the devices to let me know when a calendar event occurs, something I am interested in goes on sale, etc.
Other things that would be interesting to know - do any of the companies try to track emotions? My wife gets pissy with Alexa frequently. She will say something like "Alexa, turn on the kitchen, errm, I mean the family room lights" and be surprised it doesn't understand her. I think we will eventually get to the point where speech recognition can understand that. The second command from my wife is full of venom and rage. It's kind of amusing to me. (Until it doesn't work the third time, then she tells me how its stupid and a waste of money).
 

Ur_Mom

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"Alexa, how do you dissolve a body?"

/calls cops
"Hmmm. I can't find the answer I heard".

She's good with a lot of things, but getting rid of bodies isn't one of them. :D

Damn, I love this thing. :D
 
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Yea, the Amish life isn't really for me though. As anything connected to the internet can be used in profiling, you would have to live the equivalent of early 1900's and not use a bank or cell phone or work anywhere that collects taxes. I guess it is where each person draws the line between "I don't care" and "I won't accept this" and as long as someone is happy with their line, does it matter? Hell, I actually get in more issues with people overhearing what I say in person than I do with any digital device haha!
Yeah it's not something you can completely control these days for sure. I use a cell phone, that right there increases my being tracked, listened to or whatever else. I'm just not ready yet for something knowingly sitting in my house with a hot mic. Course I also am against laziness, I don't need to talk to AI to get what I need done or found out.

Echo to me takes away youtube/internet binges on how it works or how it's made videos. :)
 

Darunion

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Yeah it's not something you can completely control these days for sure. I use a cell phone, that right there increases my being tracked, listened to or whatever else. I'm just not ready yet for something knowingly sitting in my house with a hot mic. Course I also am against laziness, I don't need to talk to AI to get what I need done or found out.

Echo to me takes away youtube/internet binges on how it works or how it's made videos. :)
It is nice being able to command all the lights when getting up in the morning, helps when you just can't wake up. I do like "alexa, play some disturbed" and it plays, instead of having to go log in on the computer, turn the speakers on, open media player, play the artist and shuffle. Yes it does fall under laziness, but how you spend your time is most important, I would rather spend that time doing something other than clicking lol.

Also I am a star trek nerd so if they could just give echo a personality and let me say "computer" that would be great, and get majel barrets voice from samples saved over the years lol.
 

Ducman69

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I do like "alexa, play some disturbed" and it plays, instead of having to go log in on the computer, turn the speakers on, open media player, play the artist and shuffle.
Also nice is that it integrates from everything from my home speakerphone cameras, Schlage electric deadbolts, to now even the new Samsung robotic vacuum cleaners... but not so nice when I say "Alexa, open the front door" and it responds with "I'm sorry, Ducman. I'm afraid I can't do that."
 

drakken

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Not sure what that has to do with it. If Alexa was triggered and recorded him (or someone) saying something incriminating, it can and will be used against them as evidence. The 5th protects against being compelled to testify against yourself, it does not protect against providing evidence against yourself inadvertently. A recording of you saying "yo Alexa, I just murdered this dude" is not testimony, it's evidence. Do you have to tell them that you made such a recording? No. But if they find it by legal methods, it's fair game.

The only legal challenges can be if you live in a two party consent state and you had a reasonable expectation of privacy without waving your right to not be recorded, then it's possible to get the recording excluded. However, if you're in another person's house, your expectation of privacy can be challenged just as if you installed the device in your own house (thus waving your own right, since you accept it could be listening).
That is the difference between someone who watches tv and some one who is used to dealing the legal system. A recording is not evidence in fact but data that is out of context. Basically ATM footage is considered safe becasue it recorded through mutliple devices and time stamped while having someone consider it a trusted source, otherwise no would take money out of it.

But really should actually ask a sherif or pay an attoney if you want to know what evidence is, I certainly would not help you since you clearly can not read the text. When I was in the military we had an expresse RTFM... clearly you would have failed. so dude don't act like a lawery the bar this year you have to wait two year until you can try to become one. grin.
 

Darunion

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Also nice is that it integrates from everything from my home speakerphone cameras, Schlage electric deadbolts, to now even the new Samsung robotic vacuum cleaners... but not so nice when I say "Alexa, open the front door" and it responds with "I'm sorry, Ducman. I'm afraid I can't do that."
or that low pitch double tone it does, makes you want to throw a shoe across the room at it haha.
 

Darunion

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That is the difference between someone who watches tv and some one who is used to dealing the legal system. A recording is not evidence in fact but data that is out of context. Basically ATM footage is considered safe becasue it recorded through mutliple devices and time stamped while having someone consider it a trusted source, otherwise no would take money out of it.

But really should actually ask a sherif or pay an attoney if you want to know what evidence is, I certainly would not help you since you clearly can not read the text. When I was in the military we had an expresse RTFM... clearly you would have failed. so dude don't act like a lawery the bar this year you have to wait two year until you can try to become one. grin.
And all alexa would provide is that 'someone said this at this time from this location' but no identity as to who the person was that said it, and hell that is even if she understood correctly. Sounds more like something used to scare into a confession than it would be actual evidence. Sounds desperate or inexperienced in the investigation imo.
 
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