Thomas Fox-Brewster ,
Amazon is sticking to its guns in the fight to protect customer data. The tech titan has filed a motion to quash the search warrant for recordings from an Amazon Echo in the trial of James Andrew Bates, accused of murdering friend Victor Collins in Bentonville, Arkansas in November 2015. And it’s arguing as part of that motion that the responses of Alexa, the voice of the artificially intelligent speaker, has First Amendment rights.
The case first came to light in December, when it emerged Amazon was contesting a warrant to provide audio from the Echo device covering a 48-hour period from November 21 through 22 2015, alongside subscriber and account information. Amazon handed over the subscriber information and purchase history, but in its 90-page argument against the warrant, filed late last week and published in full below, Amazon said recorded audio should have First Amendment protections and so it wanted the warrant thrown out.
Not only does Amazon believe Echo users’ voice commands are protected as free speech, but also the Alexa Voice Service response. Amazon argued that requests and responses to Alexa contained details that would reveal much about the user and their interests, and so deserved protection from government. Furthermore, as Alexa responses reflect in some way both the user’s and Amazon’s speech, she’s also protected, the lawyers said.