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Is Amazon Alexa’s recorded speech protected under the 1st Amendment?




An Amazon Echo device is displayed at the Ford booth at CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
An Amazon Echo device is displayed at the Ford booth at CES 2017 at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 5, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
David Becker/Getty Images

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A murder investigation in Arkansas has become the unlikely case where the question to examine whether speech recorded by Alexa -- Amazon’s virtual home assistant -- is protected under the 1st Amendment.

Investigators in the murder case have asked for audio that might have been recorded by Alexa after the murder of Victor Collins in Bentonville, Arkansas in 2015. Collins’s friend, James Andrew Bates, is accused of the crime. An Amazon Alexa was at the scene of the murder, and investigators have wanted to get their hands on any possible audio to assist in their investigation.

But Amazon has refused to turn over the data, arguing that Alexa speech is protected under the 1st Amendment.

A panel of legal, tech and law enforcement experts join Larry to analyze the case, and its implications for law enforcement, and consumers.

Guests:

Kenneth White,  a First Amendment litigator and criminal defense attorney at Brown White & Osborn in Los Angeles. He runs the free speech and criminal justice blog, Popehat.com

Jay Stanley, senior policy analyst with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, where he researches, writes and speaks about technology-related privacy and civil liberties issues and their future

Ron Hosko, President of  the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, a non-profit organization providing assistance to law enforcement officers who are required to defend their official actions in court. He is a former assistant director of the FBI