Smart Home Can Stand Witness Against You in a Legal Proceeding; Here's How You Can Protect YourselfBy Ava Jones, UniversityHerald Reporter
A recent case concerning a dead body in a hot tub raised an ethical question about homeowners' privacy versus a mart home equipped with Echo. The recordings of the smart home device were to be used in court to determine the guilt of the homeowner James Andrew Bates over the death of Victor Collins. This makes a precedent over the fact that a smart home device can stand witness in any court proceeding against the one who purchased it.
On November 2015, Collins was found lifeless inside a hot tub of Bates' home. Bates testified he went to bed at around 1AM and found the dead body in the morning when he woke up. He said Collins and another person were still partying when he had gone to sleep.
Bates was a primary suspect and Amazon was subpoenaed so that Echo's insight on the night of the crime can be used to help solve the case. The police found signs of struggle at the scene making it a case for murder. Amazon was naturally against it citing First Amendment, Tech Crunch reported.
However, Bates gave his consent to the access of his smart home device. This raises a question of how much privacy a homeowner can expect when it comes to his or her smart home device like Home or Echo. Users know for starters that these devices make use of the Internet of Things and have built-in microphones to listen or eavesdrop so that it can register user preferences over the course of time.
As consumers who are aware what these smart home devices can do it raises another question whether or not they have waived their rights of privacy when they purchased the product. That's especially after the fact that there's now a case that made use of Echo in a legal proceeding. Smart home devices constantly listen for keywords so that it can respond cleverly.
Users are not waiving their rights of privacy when they sought to live a tech seamless lifestyle by purchasing smart home devices. But the foundation of this argument has cracks all over. The Bates case will be decided yet, NZ Herald reported.
According to Kathleen Zellner and Douglas Johnson, Bates' attorneys, Bates is innocent to all charges that is why he conceded that his Echo be used in the investigation. The police are exhausting every resource they can find to solve Collins' murder who was also found with his left eye and lips dark and swollen.