Two years ago, I blogged about the challenge of seeking to preserve records of interactions with the Amazon Echo/Alexa family of devices and applications. I concluded:
“Listen, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and all the other companies collecting vast volumes of our data through intelligent agents, apps and social networking sites, you must afford us a ready means to see and repatriate our data. It’s not enough to let us grab snatches via an unwieldy item-by-item interface. We have legal duties to meet, and if you wish to be partners in our digital lives, you must afford us reasonable means by which we can comply with the law when we anticipate litigation or respond to discovery. “
In a testament to my thought leadership, nothing whatsoever has happened since my call-to-arms in terms of the ability to preserve Alexa app history data. It’s as bad as it was two years ago and arguably worse because Echo products have grown so popular and the Alexa interface has been integrated into so many devices that the problem is bigger now by leaps and bounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I am Alexa’s biggest fan (and adore her sisters, “Amazon” and “Computer,” so-called for the alternate “wake words” I use to trigger voice communication to Amazon’s servers from other Echo devices). If anything, Craig the Consumer is happier now with the Echo ecosystem than two years ago. Wearing my user hat, Alexa’s a peach (and, yes, I am perfectly comfortable with her from a privacy point of view). Wearing my e-discovery propeller beanie, Alexa is a pain in the butt. She’s a data gold digger who cooks the books to make it supremely difficult to account for what she’s taken. Continue reading