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Witness for the Prosecution

  • Broadcast in Technology



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Police in Bentonville, Arkansas are turning to Amazon to help prosecute a suspected murderer.  Their witness is not who you might think.  In fact, it's not a who at all.  James Andrew Bates was charged with first-degree murder after a man named Victor Collins was found dead in Bates’ hot tub in November 2015. As part of their investigation, the police seized his Amazon Echo, from which they extracted data.  While the police are not divulging exactly what data was recovered, it is possible that they included audio recordings from the device.  Since many homes have "smart devices" such as smart TVs, web-enabled video devices, and AI-equipped appliances, will this case establish a precedent that opens the floodgates to other uses of technology that can be turned into witnesses for the prosecution?