I have been contemplating buying an Echo. They sound like really useful devices to keep your calendar, play music, and possibly be the hub of a “smart home.” Google sells a similar device called the Google Home. Apple's version is development. Today's announcement by Amazon has caused me to halt this thought in its tracks.
Today, Amazon agreed to hand over user data collected by its Echo smart device for a murder investigation in Arkansas. In response to a warrant, Amazon produced 48 hours of data collected by the Echo. Presumably, this data includes all conversations recorded by the device. This may also include data including noises in the home, and certainly would include the activation of any other device, i.e. lights or home security hardware, connected to the Echo.
The implications of this are staggering. This means that once you bring these assistant type devices into your home, authorities can potentially gain access to all the activities in your home. Everything you say, everything you do, or your location in your home all become available to the government. This sanctuary of privacy no longer is private.
This news should cause people to think long and hard about granting this kind of access to their personal lives.