Amazon's Alexa Is Now A Murder Case Witness
A virtual assistant can fill a lot of roles around the household. They can be a companion, a butler and even a very reluctant date, all for the low low cost of every shred of privacy you have left. But this makes these inconspicuous informers invaluable for one other thing when no other reliable human is around: being the star witness for the prosecution.
In July, after a fight with her partner Adam Crespo, 32-year-old Silvia Galva was found impaled on the 12-inch blade of a spear the couple kept at the foot of their bed. With no witnesses around, Crespo was charged with second-degree murder, unable to convince local police it was just one of those traditional Floridian indoor spearfishing accidents. But now an unlikely ear-witness has made herself available: Alexa. Investigators believe the couple's smart device may have been eavesdropping on the fight like a nosy neighbor.
But why has this snoop only come forward to do the right thing months later? Because it took police that long before finally obtaining a warrant to search through Amazon's audio recordings -- something the company will not allow without a "legally valid and binding order," so as to protect the privacy of the people whose data they relentlessly mine. Although a spokesperson for Amazon was quick to remind us that the only way the device could've been monitoring the couple's conversation would be if one of them had uttered its activation phrase.
Despite having a long history of being the ones who did it, digital butlers are being relied on more and more by law enforcement to snitch on their owners. In 2017, an Alexa was pumped for information after supposedly being witness to a hot tub strangulation, but ultimately provided no tangible evidence. So it's not surprising that Crespo's defense welcomes Alexa to the stand to set the record straight.
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