The Amazon Echo has been touted as one of the best innovations in the smart home market. It's essentially an assistant for the home that's always available to help out whenever you call out. In order to do its job though, it's always listening.
The Echo was designed to listen 24/7, so even if you have a request the second you come home or as you're walking up the stairs to bed, it can perform. This feature is concerning for many professionals. The 'learning' capabiltiies of the device means it's collecting a lot of information on its users. The question becomes - who gets to use all that data?
While Amazon declares the Echo is only actively listening once a user uses the wake phrase, 'Alexa,' some security professionals say it's possible the 'always listening' feature could really always be listening - especially if the police or government request to listen in on a specific device. CE Pro writes that a few reports also say that Amazon is not confirming whether it has or has not given the government access to anyone's Echo.
In theory, a government agency could request to listen in, even before you say the wake word. According to 18 U.S. Code 2516, the Attorney General’s office can petition a federal judge to “intercept wire, oral or electronic communications.” Given the Echo is both electronic as well as oral, it is within this statute's purview.