“Some people have wondered if smart speakers like Amazon’s Echo devices, or its closest contender, the Google Home, are constantly capturing audio data, rather than just listening when the right wake word is uttered,” Jordan Novet reports for VentureBeat. “Now a court case is bringing the issue to the fore, and it could potentially show whether that’s actually happening.”

“The case, involving the investigation of a homicide in Bentonville, Arkansas, was unearthed earlier today by The Information,” Novet reports. “The original affidavit for a search warrant from Bentonville police detective corporal Josh Woodhams clearly conveys uncertainty as to what exactly the speakers record: ‘The Amazon Echo device is constantly listening for the ‘wake’ command of ‘Alexa’ or ‘Amazon,’ and records any command, inquiry, or verbal gesture given after that point, or possibly at all times without the ‘wake word’” being issued, which is uploaded to Amazon.com’s servers at a remote location. It is believed that these records are retained by Amazon.com and that they are evidence related to the case under investigation.'”

“In this case, Amazon complied with the search warrants ‘but only supplied a portion of what was requested,’ Woodhams wrote. Presumably the detective was hoping for something more along the lines of a constant stream of audio from the two-day span that he had asked Amazon about in the warrant,” Novet reports. “This case may end up raising questions about how much audio smartphones, tablets, and even earphones that listen for ‘OK Google’ or ‘Hey Siri’ are actually recording.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s always been the biggest drawback for devices like Amazon’s Echo; how much listening are they doing? Are users bugging their own homes?