Alexa, Are You Listening?

If you didn’t already know, the Amazon device that most of America has in their home – Alexa, is the latest witness in a double murder.

In the case of State of New Hampshire v. Timothy Verrill, Amazon has been ordered to release recordings that Alexa (allegedly) took during the double homicide of two women. The judge has also ordered that Amazon turn over any records of cellular devices connected to Alexa at the time the killings took place.

Amazon is currently appealing, and has made the statement that, “Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course.”

This entire case has pointed towards another “hot topic” which often surrounds these Amazon devices: Is Alexa always listening? This is not the first time that an Amazon device such as an Alexa or Echo has been “accused” of listening in on homes when they have not been prompted. Typically, these devices would need to be triggered with one of several wake words, including “Alexa,” “Amazon,” “Computer,” or “Echo.”

How do you feel about Alexa, or other home devices such as Google Home? Do you have one, or even multiple devices? The convenience of only having to say the words and have your lights turn on, your favorite playlist come up, and the TV turn to the football game, makes these home assistants extremely appealing. That said, is your privacy at stake?

Have you ever asked Alexa if she is listening to you? Does she give you a straight answer, or does she rattle off Amazon’s lengthy privacy policy? Despite the suspicions that Alexa and Google Home may be recording you in real-time, do you still keep them in your house? Is it an invasion of your privacy if Amazon and Google do not release their recordings, even when a judge orders them to do so?

There are so many questions revolving around the release of these “alleged” Alexa murder tapes. Will this create a new legal precedent? Will Apple and Google have to unlock cell phones for the government, which they previously refused to do? Will this ground-breaking case prove once and for all that Alexa does in fact record you, even when you haven’t prompted her?

Keep up with State of New Hampshire v. Timothy Verrill to learn more as this matter continues, and tell us what you think this means for the future of home assistant devices!

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