Amazon is giving up on a legal battle to protect Alexa’s data under the First Amendment. The e-tail giant has agreed to give data from Echo to Arkansas police after gaining permission from a murder defendant.
Court documents recently made public show that Amazon abandoned its legal battle against Bentonville, Arkansas law enforcement. Amazon’s move came just days before the final hearing that would determine whether the data was pertinent to the case.
Law enforcement subpoenaed Amazon twice last year, asking the company to share audio recordings from an Echo device belonging to murder defendant James Andrew Bates. Amazon refused both requests.
Bates filed paperwork granting investigators permission to examine his device and asked Amazon to give his data to law enforcement. Amazon agreed to hand over the data after receiving the request from Bates.
Law enforcement officials believe the Echo may have recorded what happened on the evening he allegedly murdered Victor Collins in his home.
Bates, who has been charged with first-degree murder, claims to have found Collins dead in his hot tub on his back patio after a night of drinking. Investigators later found that the cause of death was strangulation, with drowning being a contributing cause.
Amazon initially refused to hand over the data, citing customer privacy rights under the First Amendment.
In a previous court filing, Amazon stated that law enforcement needed to prove why they needed the data before they would hand it over.
“Such government demands inevitably chill users from exercising their First Amendment rights to seek and receive information and expressive content in the privacy of their own home, conduct which lies at the core of the Constitution,” said Amazon.
Amazon’s legal battle with Arkansas authorities is similar to the case between Apple and the FBI in 2016. Apple refused to unlock an iPhone used by Syed Farook, the San Bernardino shooter.