Amazon does not want to hand over Alexa's response in a murder investigation in the US. The company says the AI-based speaker is protected by the First Amendment and that both user's commands and the device's response come under protected speech.
The e-commerce giant has filed a motion to quash a search warrant for recordings from an Amazon Echo in the trial of James Andrew Bates, who is a suspect in the murder of his friend Victor Collins in Bentonville, Arkansas in November 2015.
"Given the important First Amendment and privacy implications at stake, the warrant should be quashed unless the Court finds that the State has met its heightened burden for compelled production of such materials," its court filings read.
Collins was found floating a hot tub in Bates' home, who called the police to report the death. Although Bates claimed the death was an accidental drowning, investigative officers say Collins' eye and lips were swollen, and there were drops of blood around the tub making it look like he may have been murdered.
The police claim an Echo speaker was streaming music near the tub at the time of the death and that it is possible that Alexa was activated with a "wake" command and a recording could shed light on what happened that night.
Amazon, in its filing last week, said the recorded audio by a customer should have First Amendment protections. The subscriber information and purchase history of the speaker has already been handed over to the police, says the company. Amazon said prosecutors had failed to establish that it was necessary to reveal the recordings in this case.