“Witness for the Prosecution: A Smart Speaker?”

While these smart devices are only supposed to record requests and responses, it is unclear how long a device continues to record after the interaction is complete. This has raised many questions about what the devices actually record and if that audio is able to be used against the owner in, for example, a murder trial.

A recent example of this is in the double-murder trial of State of New Hampshire v. Timothy Verrill. In this case, there was an Amazon Echo located in the home near where the victims were murdered. A warrant was given to Amazon, directing them to turn over recordings from the device, but Amazon refused.

This case is not alone. There are many other cases similar to this one where privacy concerns come into play and muddy the waters.

“The debate boils down to privacy versus criminal justice concerns. Judges may face a dilemma in deciding how easy or difficult it should be for law enforcement to access recordings on these personal gadgets,” says Moser.

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