Alexa, Siri and Co.: German ministers want to use recordings as evidence in trials | News | DW | 05.06.2019

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Alexa, Siri and Co.: German ministers want to use recordings as evidence in trials

Voice assistants, smart TVs and even refrigerators could soon play a role in investigating crimes in Germany, if a group of interior ministers passes a proposal allowing collected data to be used as evidence in court.

According to internal documents seen Wednesday by local media, German interior ministers are considering a proposal that would allow data from speech assistants to be legally permissible as evidence for the prosecution of crimes.

The plan to use so-called "digital traces" saved on smart home devices like Alexa, Siri, smart TVs and appliances was outlined in a draft resolution that will be tabled at the German interior ministers' conference taking place next week in the northern city of Kiel.

Read more: Opinion: When it comes to data protection, we have to do better 

If the proposal is signed into law, digital data saved on devices could be collected and evaluated by authorities. 

The legislation was proposed by the interior minister of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, Hans-Joachim Grote. Ministers from the CDU and SPD are reportedly ready to support the proposal at the upcoming conference.

Read more: Opinion: Amazon's Alexa lies to — and spies on — consumers

According to the document, which was seen by the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), a group of German newspapers, data saved on digital home devices is said to be "increasingly important" for investigating capital crimes and preventing terrorist threats.

The German government did not comment when asked by public broadcaster ARD if the data would used by intelligence services. 

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