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SU law student asks, ‘Can Alexa Testify Against You?’

SU law student asks, ‘Can Alexa Testify Against You?’

We live in an age when increasing numbers of people rely on devices to turn off their lights, make a phone call, or set the morning alarm. This may explain why since its launch in 2015, Alexa—or what Amazon calls a “virtual assistant” —has become a virtual extension of the lives of its estimated eight-million-plus owners.

This codependency however comes with its own set of risks, according to a research paper published in the Southern University Law Review. (Read the paper here.)

The paper “Alexa, Pick An Amendment”: A Comparison of Fourth and First Amendment Protections of Echo Device Data,” asks whether Alexa owners are protected under the First and Fourth Amendments when their privacy rights are infringed upon. The paper was written by by Tara Melancon, a third-year law student at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge.

Tara Melancon

Tara Melancon

Melancon writes that American society has been preoccupied with privacy rights since at least the late 19th century, when The Right to Privacy, a law review article from 1890, broached the perennially relevant subject of the need for “privacy laws to keep up with technological progress.”

The issue has become increasingly relevant.

The reason, as Melancon explains, is not only because Alexa might be used to collect evidence against owners entangled in the criminal justice system; but because recent technological advances, notably our smart phones—which track our every move and purchase—have made us vulnerable and possible targets for investigation.

Read more at The Crime Report by Julia Pagnamenta.

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