In November 2015, four friends gathered to have drinks and watch football. As sometimes happens when friends gather and alcohol is involved, a noteworthy story arose from the occasion. Unlike most instances, however, what happened is what authorities are saying was a murder: Later in the evening, one friend left while three remained at the house, where the homeowner said they could spend the night. In the morning, one of those friends was found dead in a hot tub. The cause of death was strangulation and, secondarily, drowning.

In the midst of the ensuing investigation, authorities think they may have found a new witness. That potential witness, however, wasn’t one of the people having drinks that night. It was Amazon Echo, a web-connected wireless speaker that, upon voice command, can provide information on a variety of topics and music. The device is, as some users put it, “always listening,” i.e., always ready to receive a command. Upon making a request of the device, it also records under 60 seconds of sound from its surroundings, which is erased as new sound as recorded. Amazon, however, refuses to release information on customers unless legally required.

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