Murder Witness Alexa? I Warned Y’all About Them Things Didn’t I?
Early February 2017. I stopped in to visit my dear first cousin, the brilliant SWLA hazmat and oil spill responder, he's famous around the world. With raging chemicals out of control, with some kind of spill that reacts violently with water and a rainstorm brewing overhead, I've trusted my very life in his hands and based on his judgment.
On a barge wreck one time, the situation was so ticklish and sensitive for days on end, one single wrong move would've wiped New Iberia, La., completely off the map and left about a 300' crater where we would have last been seen standing.
One thing about him though, he always likes to have the latest tech gadgets around.
My eye quickly spotted It, on his desk.
Shut that thing completely off before we talk I said.
It's off, I have it switched off, don't worry... you're paranoid he said.
Maybe I have a tad of paranoia, but you never know when it's on and you realize it must listen constantly so it'll know when you're talking to It, and so you never can tell what else it will hear.
I have nothing to hide, said he.
Neither do I, I just don't like snoops.
And so we chatted on a while about family, the old days when we were together chasing industrial incidents down, traveling the world and other innocuous and boring topics that probably actually put Alexa to sleep.
But, now the world knows Alexa is Always Listening, it has to, it has to pick out the voice prompts when you want to use it. They don't have cameras in them now do they?
New Hampshire Judge Orders Amazon To Rat Out Alexa Recordings
Welcome to the future and the lil spy in your room. But, as it happens this time it may be a good thing and could help catch a murderer. Alexa may have had her ears open on 27 January 2017 when one Christine Sullivan came to be stabbed to death in her Farmington, NH., home she shared with her boyfriend.
The big question is, whether what Alexa heard in the kitchen that horrible night still exists, without the keyword that activates the device, no one is sure right now whether everything is saved or not. That's why the judge wants Amazon to give up the back end access that might answer the question as to whether the recordings exist, and whether they'd be useful to prosecute the murderer.
Oh, by the way, the boyfriend Timothy Verrill is also accused of killing Sullivan's friend Jenna Pellegrini because he thought they were both ratting him out about his alleged drug operation.
There are So Many Prickly Thorns On This Bush
Invasion of privacy, during the committal of a murder - being recorded unknowingly, literally being spied upon. If only J Edgar Hoover had had access to these things the government would have saved millions on wiretapping equipment in his heyday. There's a whole mishmash of constitutional rights in question here, but in the interest of putting a drug dealer and double murderer out of business, I'd go along with the judge in this case, but Amazon is citing customer privacy to keep investigators out for now.
Customer Privacy, in Amazon's view, extends beyond death, as it is known the machine was on the kitchen counter throughout the murders and may have even recorded the disposal of the bodies. Amazon has that right, for now, but that's the whole reason a judge is involved. This is a murder case, all avenues must be investigated to their natural conclusion.
We Need To Figure This Out and Fast
This isn't the first case of tech involvement in crime; the Christmas party terror attack a couple years back in California, investigators wanted to get into the deceased attacker's text messages and email on their iPhone, Apple wouldn't budge. Claimed even they couldn't hack their own phones.
This is going to come up again, how many people have these things in their homes, offices, are you talking to your car's dashboard too?
The devices will sometimes be present in crime scenes going forward, we must figure out if that info is fair game in felony investigations. I say felony because that level of crime, a murder for instance in my mind precludes your right to privacy. Thank you technology for presenting us simple mortals with yet another slippery ethical slope to slide down.
As you can see, I value my privacy even if I ain't up to Nothing. I just don't like the idea of being secretly watched or listened to in private. I don't have a smart thermostat or a smart refrigerator either. Nobody needs to know how cold my AC is or what I'm eating and drinking, all that happens in my domain is my business.
Yeah, I'm a little paranoid here and there. Why not, today the whole world is wired and sees everything and hears everything.
Except, at my house.
More about this right here.