Amazon Echo.
Amazon Echo. (Photo: George W. Bailey/Shutterstock.com)

Amazon Inc. has agreed to hand over recordings from an “Echo” device that was in the home of a murder suspect in Arkansas, after initially resisting doing so on First Amendment grounds.

In a stipulation filed Monday in the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, Amazon’s attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine wrote that defendant James Bates had consented to the production of the recordings from his Echo, and that its motion to quash a warrant seeking the data was now moot.

A hearing on the motion had been set for Wednesday. Kinley Pearsall, an Amazon spokeswoman, declined to comment on the development.

Bates’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said in a tweet Tuesday morning: “We agreed to release recordings-my client James Bates is innocent.” 

In an email, Zellner said Bates “has nothing to hide. It would be pointless to litigate this issue and delay the trial that will result in his acquittal.” 

Amazon’s fight against the warrant seeking data from Bates’ Echo had been closely watched by legal experts as a test of the limits of privacy protections for data gathered by connected devices in consumers’ homes. Some experts were skeptical that Amazon’s First Amendment arguments would succeed.

The Echo is a small, tabletop speaker that responds to user voice commands via a virtual artificial intelligence assistant named “Alexa,” allowing users to run simple web searches or play a variety of media. The device stores user requests remotely on Amazon’s servers so that users can review what they asked for, the results, and even transcripts of what they said.

Bates is suspected by Arkansas authorities in a 2015 murder at his home. During a search of the residence, police found an Echo device in his kitchen, and requested all data recorded by the device in a 48-hour window around the suspected murder.

Amazon Inc. has agreed to hand over recordings from an “Echo” device that was in the home of a murder suspect in Arkansas, after initially resisting doing so on First Amendment grounds.

In a stipulation filed Monday in the Circuit Court of Benton County, Arkansas, Amazon’s attorneys at Davis Wright Tremaine wrote that defendant James Bates had consented to the production of the recordings from his Echo, and that its motion to quash a warrant seeking the data was now moot.

A hearing on the motion had been set for Wednesday. Kinley Pearsall, an Amazon spokeswoman, declined to comment on the development.

Bates’s attorney, Kathleen Zellner, said in a tweet Tuesday morning: “We agreed to release recordings-my client James Bates is innocent.” 

In an email, Zellner said Bates “has nothing to hide. It would be pointless to litigate this issue and delay the trial that will result in his acquittal.” 

Amazon’s fight against the warrant seeking data from Bates’ Echo had been closely watched by legal experts as a test of the limits of privacy protections for data gathered by connected devices in consumers’ homes. Some experts were skeptical that Amazon’s First Amendment arguments would succeed.

The Echo is a small, tabletop speaker that responds to user voice commands via a virtual artificial intelligence assistant named “Alexa,” allowing users to run simple web searches or play a variety of media. The device stores user requests remotely on Amazon’s servers so that users can review what they asked for, the results, and even transcripts of what they said.

Bates is suspected by Arkansas authorities in a 2015 murder at his home. During a search of the residence, police found an Echo device in his kitchen, and requested all data recorded by the device in a 48-hour window around the suspected murder.