As mentioned, the case happened back in November 2015 when a man was found dead in a hot tub. When investigating the crime scene, police found an Echo device and immediately filed search warrants to Amazon to request all records from the date of the crime. Investigators believed that, despite Echo devices only record after the wake word, the fact that the device is permanently listening to all background noise may provide the missing clues. The police suspected that any noise created during or before the murder may have triggered the recording, sending key information to Amazon’s servers. This is one of the core aspects, as Echo devices allow you to delete your own voice recordings but there’s nothing you can do about the fact that they are sent to Amazon for “service improvement” purposes. Nonetheless, the police also investigated other devices found on the crime scene such as an iPhone 6S, a MacBook Pro, a PS4 and a couple of tablets, as they were in a full-blown smart home with tech like a smart thermostat, alarm system, wireless weather monitoring and more .
IoT Devices. Friends or Foes?
Questioning whether IoT technology is a blessing or a curse is a topic with increasing relevancy. The fact that our homes are turning “smart” and the raising amount of connected devices that will become recurring trends will be commonly debated, but might also help in some cases like this. However, the privacy that we long for has the opposite effect thanks to the companies’ policies regarding data protection. We all remember how controversial the aforementioned FBI vs Apple case was and our murder case would have also turned ugly if Amazon decided not to deliver the requested data. Nonetheless, according to the warrants in question, the police should be able to crack an Echo device open without the company’s permission.
In addition, poor encryption could work in the authority’s favor as well, – despite being a concern to users –since a smart meter for instance allowed the police to notice an “excessive amount of water” at the time of the crime.
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