Like many people of certain age, I fear inviting an Amazon Cylon into my home to record my every move simply because I’m too lazy to turn on my stereo. Unlike most people, I have sound legal reasons for distrusting Alexa that buttress my irrational fears of robots.
I do not want a voice-activated recording device in my home, because I do not know what the state might do with that information.
Strafford County Superior Court Justice Steven M. Houran ordered Amazon to turn over recordings that may have captured the death of two women, and implicated Timothy Verrill, a suspect charged in their deaths.
The order was made on probable cause grounds, which has some legal analysts concerned. From Legal Tech news:
Andrew Ferguson, who teaches law at the University of the District of Columbia, explained that Internet of Things (IoT) enabled evidence “presents hard decisions for judges because analog rules do not necessarily make sense in a digital world.”
“In essence, the judge conflated probable cause, that a crime occurred with probable cause, that evidence of that crime will be on the device. This is both understandable, because judges have routinely granted such warrants for homes or cars or computers, but also probably a stretch if you think about what the probable cause standard should be,” Ferguson said.
However, he warned, just because a crime has been committed does not mean that all the smart devices associated with the suspects should be searched because of the possibility of helpful evidence. “I think the judge’s court order fails to understand exactly how Amazon Echos work, and is based on a hope for possible evidence as opposed to a reasonable certainty that incriminating evidence will be found.”