Amazon Argues Alexa’s Responses Are Protected By First Amendment

Last year, Amazon declined requests to turn over the Echo voice recordings of murder suspect James Andrew Bates. And the company is not backing down. Forbes reports that late last week Amazon filed a motion to repeal the search warrant in question citing the First Amendment. The company not only believes Bates’ voice commands are protected as free speech but that Alexa’s responses are as well. Amazon’s legal team argues,

“The responses may contain expressive material, such as a podcast, an audiobook, or music requested by the user. Second, the response itself constitutes Amazon’s First Amendment-protected speech.”

The Bates murder case is raising interesting questions as to whether ‘machine speech’ is protected under the First Amendment. Toni Massaro, a professor at the University of Arizona College of Law, believes Amazon has a case, in that “the free speech arguments that favor ‘machine speech’ are surprisingly plausible under current doctrine and theory.” She also stated that “as long as Alexa can be seen as Amazon, there is a protected speaker here.”