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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

You Might Want To Rethink Having A Device In Your House Storing Data Of Everything It Hears Or That You Do

Amazon's Echo and Echo Dot are in millions of homes now, with holiday sales more than quadrupling from 2015. 

Always listening for its wake word, the breakthrough smart speakers boast seven microphones waiting to take and record your commands. 

Now, Arkansas police are hoping an Echo found at a murder scene in Bentonville can aid their investigation

 First reported by The Information, investigators filed search warrants to Amazon, requesting any recordings between November 21 and November 22, 2015, from James A. Bates, who was charged with murder after a man was strangled in a hot tub

While investigating, police noticed the Echo in the kitchen and pointed out that the music playing in the home could have been voice activated through the device.

 While the Echo records only after hearing the wake word, police are hoping that ambient noise or background chatter could have accidentally triggered the device, leading to some more clues.

Amazon has not sent any recordings to the officers but did provide Bates' account information to authorities, according to court documents. 

The retailer giant said it doesn't release customer information without a "valid and binding legal demand."

 "Amazon objects to over-broad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course," the company said in a statement. 

Even without Amazon's help, police may be able to crack into the Echo, according to the warrant.

 Officers believe they can tap into the hardware on the smart speakers, which could "potentially include time stamps, audio files or other data."

 Police also found a Nest thermostat, a Honeywell alarm system, wireless weather monitoring in the backyard and WeMo devices for lighting at the smart home crime scene. 

Officers have also seized an iPhone 6S, a Macbook Pro, a PlayStation 4 and three tablets in the investigation.

Computers, ipads, phones and other devices have microphones that can be manipulated from the net.

 Spying through smartphone cameras, computer webcams, laptops and tablets is widespread and governments have been checking people out for years.


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