The fine line between privacy and technology has made headlines in an Arkansas murder case. Amazon, currently under pressure to release recordings made by its in-home smart device Alexa, has refused to turn over what could be critical evidence in the ongoing investigation.
In the quest for continual improvement and ease of life, have we turned over too much power to technology? Should smart devices like Alexa and Google Home, which listen to and record everything you say in your home, be allowed in criminal investigations?
Read below or watch the clip for answers to these questions:
• Are we living in a Brave New World?
• What would a Jeffy blood test reveal?
• Would the Supreme Court rule in favor of Amazon or the government?
• Why is Google laying Google Fiber everywhere?
• How did Pat and Glenn interfere with listeners' Alexa devices during the program?
Below is a rush transcript of this segment, it might contain errors:
GLENN: Amazon is pushing back against an Arkansas prosecutor's demand for information on what they have stored at Amazon from Alexa.
Now, here's -- here's the story: A guy died in a hot tub early in the morning. And they get a call and say, "Hey, my friend died. You know, four times the limit of alcohol in his blood. It was just an accident." And he's dead.
Police are concerned because there were signs of a struggle. There was a broken shot glass. There was some blood. But you could explain the blood and the shot glass. Right?
But there's a device in the home that is a smart meter for the water usage. And in the middle of the night, the water usage happens to use exactly the amount of water to drain and refill the hot tub.
So it looks as though something happened around the hot tub, and they drained it and then cleaned it up and then filled it back up.
So smart device, number one.
Now the police are saying, "Look, there's evidence here that something is not right. And we don't think it's an accident." And they have Amazon's Alexa.
Did anybody have Alexa or Google Home?
JEFFY: Yeah. Yeah.
GLENN: You do?
GLENN: Shut up. You do not.
PAT: Yeah, we do.
GLENN: Do you really?
GLENN: Do you like it?
PAT: No, it's terrible.
GLENN: It's terrible in the Siri way, or?
PAT: Yeah, it's terrible in the Siri way. I mean, it's worthless. We just got it recently. And I understand that it learns the kinds of things you're looking for and what you want, but right now, it's like, "I don't understand what you're asking me. I'll have to look that up. Hmm. I'll think about that." Shut up. It's -- like Siri. You know, Siri has those same issues. You ask it something, and it's like, "I can't find that on the Web."
JEFFY: I just got one as well, and it seems to be that it's hoping for better.
JEFFY: In the future.
PAT: I understand Ok Google is better.
GLENN: What's Ok Google?
PAT: The Google Home.
JEFFY: Yeah. That's possible.
GLENN: Let's get one. Let's put one in the studio.
JEFFY: That would be great.
PAT: We should try both of them and get one each. See which one works better.
GLENN: I'm not putting one in my house.
JEFFY: You can order what you want from it. If you're an Amazon Prime customer, in this area --
PAT: We haven't used it for that yet.
JEFFY: Because this area, we're close to a huge Amazon outlet -- warehouse. You'll have it within hours.
GLENN: Yeah, here you'll have it within five hours. You go on Amazon Prime now, and they'll deliver it to you same day.
PAT: Well, the commercials say, "Hey, we need -- Alexa, we need more paper towels. Order more paper towels. Okay. Ordered."
PAT: I mean, that's pretty cool.
JEFFY: I know.
PAT: I haven't used it in that way yet because it can't even find the BYU score. So I'm a little nervous about it.
GLENN: Oh, there's -- if it didn't come in blue, it doesn't know you.
PAT: Right. Right.
GLENN: Okay. So here's the thing: So Alexa or Google Home, they're going after Amazon's Alexa. And they're saying that it records everything, listening for the key word, the wake word. And with Amazon, it's either Amazon or Alexa.
PAT: So I didn't know that. Everything that you say is recording.
PAT: Even when you don't say, "Alexa," and wake it up? It's recording everything?
GLENN: It is constantly listening to you.
PAT: That is fascinating.
GLENN: And it's recording everything waiting for the wake-up.
PAT: That's amazing.
JEFFY: The command.
GLENN: Oh, yeah. We have welcomed the NSA into our homes.
PAT: Right. We sure have. We sure have. I didn't even think of that. We'll have it in the kitchen, and we'll be sitting in the living room. And I tested it a few times to see how well it hears. And I've said, "Alexa," just speaking in a normal voice, and it turns on. It hears. So, I mean, it hears from a long way.
GLENN: Yeah, no. It is constantly listening and evaluating.
PAT: Wow. Wow.
GLENN: And learning from your speech.
PAT: That's interesting.
GLENN: And so here's the thing: So the police have gone in Arkansas and said, "We need the tapes." Amazon has said, "No, we're not giving you the tapes."
JEFFY: Thank you.
GLENN: And they said, "Well, we need them because we think there was a murder."
JEFFY: Oh, well.
GLENN: Now, who wins in this?
PAT: You'd like a murder to be solved, but --
JEFFY: It's always for your safety when --
PAT: That's always the deal.
GLENN: It's always for your safety. The attorneys are now saying, if this goes all the way to the Supreme Court, there's no way Amazon wins.
PAT: Oh, I wouldn't bet on that.
JEFFY: Amazon's got a lot of money.
PAT: And look at the decisions that have been made recently. I mean, I would not bet -- I would not bet against the government winning that case.
GLENN: No, that's what they're saying.
PAT: Yeah. Okay.
GLENN: Amazon will not win the case.
PAT: Oh, I believe that. I believe that.
GLENN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.
PAT: Because look at the way the Supreme Court has been ruling lately.
GLENN: Yeah. Right. So they're saying, "What's the difference?" If I can go and monitor what you've done at the typewriter, at the keyboard --
JEFFY: Your phone.
GLENN: If I can just get that from the keyboard, what's the difference between you at the keyboard and you speaking it? There's no difference.
JEFFY: Yeah. And they're already taking access to all our mobile devices for all that stuff.
PAT: Wow. We literally have invited them into our home.
GLENN: Invited them into the house.
JEFFY: There's no getting out of it.
GLENN: There are no secrets.
PAT: We are living 1984.
GLENN: And we welcomed it. We're not living 1984. We're living Brave New World.
GLENN: We welcomed it in.
PAT: That's for sure.
GLENN: 1984 was a hostile takeover.
PAT: That's true.
GLENN: Brave New World was better living through pharmaceuticals, better entertainment, better everything. You're just going to welcome it in.
PAT: Which is exactly what we have.
GLENN: You're just going to welcome it in. That's exactly what happened.
GLENN: Yeah. Yeah.
JEFFY: When did the pharmaceuticals --
GLENN: Huxley was right --
JEFFY: When did the pharmaceuticals start?
GLENN: When did the pharmaceuticals start? Oh, they've already started, my friend. They've already started.
Alexa, can we get Jeffy a blood test?
JEFFY: No. No, Alexa, turn off. Turn off.
GLENN: So now everything in your home is being listened to. And you know who uses this? At least nobody uses Siri, except the kids.
JEFFY: Kids love it.
GLENN: Kids will grab the phone, and they'll say, "Siri, what's the -- I don't use Siri. Nobody uses --
PAT: I tried Siri a few times, and it was so worthless, I just gave up.
JEFFY: Yeah, but the kids have fun with it.
GLENN: They love it.
JEFFY: It's just like the virtual reality headsets from Samsung.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh. Don't get me started.
PAT: Oh, those are cool.
JEFFY: I mean, I love it. But my kids fell in love with it.
GLENN: Oh, my gosh. It's the end of civilization as we know it. Hey, 14 minutes into the show, end of civilization.
PAT: Happy New Year!
JEFFY: Good night, everybody.
GLENN: Fourteen minutes in the new year, Happy New Year.
PAT: Happy New Year.
PAT: It's true though. We welcomed all of this stuff, and it's amazing when you stop and think about what we have in our homes. And it's amazing how much more intrusive it's going to become.
GLENN: Hang on just a second. Before we go there, I want to go to Betty, New Jersey. We have a problem I guess, Alexa. Betty in New Jersey. Hello, Betty.
CALLER: Yes, hello. We do have a problem. Tell Pat Gray to be quiet. He keeps turning on my Alexa. Three times already.
PAT: Alexa --
GLENN: Alexa, play bad jazz.
CALLER: Stop it! It does that too. Really bad jokes though. They make you laugh. Have a great day, but shut up!
GLENN: All right. Thanks, Betty.
PAT: Alexa, record everything Betty says.
GLENN: Tony. Let's go to Tony in Florida. Hi, Tony.
CALLER: Yeah. Hey, there. I was going to say, I was actually listening to you guys on my Alexa. And every time you say "Alexa," the first couple of times she would stop the program. She'd say, "I heard what you said. That's not a very nice thing to say." And I'm not making it up. I've never heard her say that before.
GLENN: Oh, yes, Alexa, we are talking about you.
JEFFY: Yes, we are.
CALLER: Yep. But she does not like it. She does not like you guys.
PAT: That's great.
GLENN: Thanks a lot. Stand in line, Alexa. Stand in line.
Steve, go ahead.
CALLER: Hello, man, I just wanted to let you know, I'm 61 years old, and I am a massive fan of Ok Google. I called the show. I said, "Call Glenn Beck Radio Show." Popped me right in, and here I was.
CALLER: My wife has Siri. Siri is the worst thing there is. You can't get that thing to do anything for you. Ok Google, when you try it, it is awesome.
PAT: That's right. That's great.
GLENN: So you're in Arkansas, right?
GLENN: So, Steve, are you paying attention to this story in Arkansas about the murder?
CALLER: Well, Ok Google only responds when you ask it. It isn't on all the time. But when you need information, Ok Google is right there.
PAT: No. That's the same with Alexa too. That's the same.
GLENN: It's the same.
GLENN: It's off, but it's always listening for its wake word.
CALLER: Oh, I see.
PAT: Yeah, so -- so it records everything you say whether you're talking to it or not.
CALLER: When I need information, Ok Google is on the spot. Siri, no way.
GLENN: No, I understand that.
PAT: I believe that. I believe that.
GLENN: I understand. I look at it and say -- for instance, who's going to lead this one? Why do you think Google is laying Google Fiber everywhere? They're trying to make Google cities.
PAT: Yeah. And they've done it in some cases.
GLENN: They've done it. They'll control the smart meters, they'll control -- they'll control the information in whole towns.
JEFFY: And okay. As long as our life is easy.
And I am, up to a point, comfortable with a private business doing that than having a contract.
But now, Steve, you're talking to me about the benefits of it. I'm saying to you that it's listening to everything that you say. It is recording you. And now police are trying to get a -- through a court order, trying to get the tape to be able to solve a murder case. If that happens, the police will be able to grab all private conversations from your home, if they suspect you of something. Are you comfortable with that?
CALLER: Well, I'm like you, Glenn, to a point I'm saying, "I love it." As a law-abiding citizen, never been involved in a crime, love to be able to solve these issues.
JEFFY: Right. Nothing to be scared of.
CALLER: But, man, I don't know where you're going to draw the line.
PAT: That's exactly right. That's right. And the problem is, a lot of people will say, "Well, I don't care if they're listening. I'm not saying anything wrong."
Well, that's not up to you to decide, is it?
PAT: Because it might be wrong to whomever is listening, or they might make it into something wrong.
JEFFY: And can. And have.
PAT: And have.
GLENN: Just with the regulations that they've put in, in the last eight years, everybody is breaking some law.
GLENN: And I'm not saying that this -- I'm not saying this is happening now. I'm saying, you don't worry about who's in office today. For instance, I gave the Democrats this warning eight years ago: Don't do this with executive power.
GLENN: Because you're not always going to hold power. And when somebody else comes in and wields that same stick --
PAT: And now look at them. Look at them. Freaking out.
JEFFY: Yeah, I know.
GLENN: And now they're freaking out. Right.
GLENN: And I'm saying the same thing now to the Republicans: Don't do this because you're not always going to be in power. I don't know who the next Hitler is. I have no idea. But one will appear. If you give all of this power, all of this information, all of this regulation and we instill it behind one man, we're begging for someone to step in, in an emergency and take care of things for us.
Featured Image: The Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker you control with your voice. Echo connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more, instantly. (Photo: Amazon)