Police said to probe Amazon Echo in relation to murder case

Can 'Alexa' help solve a murder?
Can 'Alexa' help solve a murder?

Amazon's Echo device is embroiled in the investigation of a murder in Arkansas, The Information reported on Tuesday.

A man was found dead, allegedly by strangulation, in a hot tub in 2015 after a group of coworkers reportedly gathered at the suspect's home to watch an Arkansas Razorbacks football game. Now, smart home devices are central to investigating his death, according to The Information reporters Tom Dotan and Reed Albergotti.

The Information reported that police in Bentonville have a warrant for audio and other records from an Echo, a device that can perform verbal commands, including playing music and buying goods from Amazon. Investigators have already extracted some data off the device, and Amazon has turned over the suspects' account information and purchase history, according to The Information.

But Amazon has refused twice to hand over remaining information from the Echo device of the murder suspect, The Information reported. CNBC has reached out to the Bentonville criminal investigations division.

"Amazon will not release customer information without a valid and binding legal demand properly served on us," a spokeswoman told CNBC. "Amazon objects to overbroad or otherwise inappropriate demands as a matter of course."

The case comes as law enforcement and technology firms have clashed over the boundaries of privacy and national security. Earlier this year, Apple defied the FBI's orders to help unlock an iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, who was responsible for the shootings in San Bernardino.

With "smart" devices like water meters also involved in the Arkansas case, it may foreshadow more battles ahead between Silicon Valley and law enforcement, The Information said.

For the full report, see the article at The Information.