UK police fighting crime with Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo, the IoT smart speaker technology, has found its place in the UK police force. Specifically, Lancashire police are using it as an information source for local criminal activity.

It also aids them with the following tasks:

  • Sending out missing person reports
  • Posting crime bulletins
  • Publishing wanted suspect alerts
  • Blasting out internal briefings
  • Real-time incident alerting
  • Daily crime logging

Civilians can use it to fight crime as well, since it easily allows you to report crime from the comfort of your home. Rob Flanagan from Lancashire police force believes that law enforcement call centres will become less burdened because of it, particularly due to its voice-recognition features.

Even if the UK public were to accept the idea, there are privacy issues that spring to mind. Simply put, reporting crime over the phone can be done by remaining anonymous, while the same cannot be said for doing so via Amazon Echo. To further complicate things in this regard, some data remains stored on Amazon’s servers.

In December 2016, the Arkansas law enforcement authorities demanded voice recordings from an Echo device to help solve a murder case, which is a concrete example that illustrates the privacy implications of this IoT device.

Even though Amazon decided to reveal the subscriber and account information, the company cited first amendment rights and refused the order. The suspect in the case willingly decided to hand over the information, on the basis of which the case was dropped.