Back in December, reports surfaced of a murder case in Bentonville, Ark., in which police issued Amazon a warrant for any audio recordings to come from the prime suspect’s Echo device. The retail giant is fighting the request, claiming the recorded data and Alexa’s responses are protected under the First Amendment. This is an important case for corporations to watch because it will have an effect, positive or negative, on the government’s access to data associated with the Internet of Things (IOT).

Amazon Echo is a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com that connects to a voice-controlled intelligent “personal assistant” service, Alexa. The device is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information. It can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation hub, connecting the Internet of Things (a network of internet-connected objects able to collect and exchange data).

The case has similarities with Apple’s fight against the FBI last year. Apple refused to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c. The agency eventually turned to another firm for help breaking into the handset, bypassing Apple altogether. In this case, the release of the data by Amazon will likely continue to be delayed in the short term as the case moves through the courts. Long term, Amazon  is not likely to be able to resist court orders. READ MORE