Amazon is declining to hand over the audio records transmitted through an Echo device that belongs to a man charged with murder, despite a search warrant from police investigating the case.
According to The Information’s Tom Dotan and Reed Albergotti, the Echo device in question was owned by James Andrew Bates, a Bentonville, Arkansas, resident charged with first-degree murder earlier this year.
A man was found dead in a hot tub at Bates’ home last year, and the police believe additional evidence for the case could be found in the Echo device.
The report says Amazon refused to hand over the audio data on two separate occasions, although Amazon did share Bates’ account information and purchase history. The police were able to take some information out of the device, but it’s unclear what that included.
This is likely the first murder case involving a search warrant for the Echo, Amazon’s smash-hit voice-controlled device. The Echo is able to record only when it’s activated by a wake word, like “Alexa,” but it’s capable of playing music, reading the news, or making certain types of orders with a user’s voice commands. There’s also a chance that the device could have been triggered accidentally, causing it to record a snippet of conversation that could be of use in the case.
Amazon sent Business Insider the following statement in response to this story:
“Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us. Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”