One of my son's friends has an Amazon Echo and he has it doing cool tricks, so my son mentioned that he would love to have one. We responded in typical parent fashion, noting that he could see about getting more hours on his summer job and Christmas or birthday aren't really that far away.
But I did decide to spend some time looking for information about this gadget. It is a Bluetooth speaker and voice-activated digital assistant. Here is a recent C|Net review. You can ask it lots of different questions and it will answer. It will do digital tasks for you. Alexa is the device's Siri/Cortana/etc command recognition interface.
I wasn't as interested when I first heard of it in beta because I'd recently bought my first Sonos home speaker and because it listened to you all the time–like every moment. And what if you had a friend named Alexa?
Well, now it is out of beta and anyone can buy it for $179.99, making the $99 beta purchasers feel like they got a bargain.
Privacy advocates are asking the FTC to take a closer look at these "always listening" devices.
One reviewer says "Forget Amazon Echo, ‘the creepy factor’ has put me off voice control completely,"
This review is the reason I am bringing the Echo to lawyer's attention. The reviewer points out that Google ("OK Google") and Amazon save your voice prompts in history. So those could be personal private information even without the nightmare scenario of a hacker breaking into the device to eavesdrop on a user all day. Here's another new source of personal digital data that a lawyer may try access through discovery some day and which would be quite an intrusive personal data grab. On the other hand, a record of numerous verbal commands given to a device that was connected to the client's home WiFi over an evening might be very persuasive to a jury or prosecutor if the client was charged with some heinous crime in a nearby city.
A recognizable voice recording is much better than mere evidence showing someone was using the computer at the home while the crime was omitted elsewhere.