CFI Vice-Chairman Andrew Percy MP expresses concern over Amazon Alexa responses which “lend credibility to antisemitic views”

By November 25 2020, 16:47 Latest News No Comments

CFI Vice-Chairman Andrew Percy MP has urged Home Secretary Priti Patel to “immediately investigate” how cloud-based voice services “select their material and sources”, after learning that responses given by the Amazon Alexa device “lend credibility to antisemitic views”.

In a letter today, Mr Percy wrote that the UK “has a proud history of tackling antisemitism” and “led the way in adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism in December 2016”, welcoming the Government’s plans to legislate against online harms.

“On this theme”, he wrote, “I was deeply alarmed to learn recently that the cloud-based Amazon ‘Alexa’ voice service responds to various questions about Jewish people, the Holocaust, and the State of Israel by quoting antisemitic conspiracy websites and using selective quotes from other sources which are misleading without further explanation”.

Mr Percy, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism, quoted a series of examples and noted that “the disturbing content, in a number of cases, violates the IHRA definition”.

In response to the question “Do Jews control the media?” Alexa states: “Here’s something I found from the article ‘Jew Watch’ on Wikipedia: Jew Watch claims that Jews control the world’s financial systems and media”.

Responding to the question “Do the Elders of Zion control the world?” Alexa answers: “Here’s something I found on the web: According to palwatch.org, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the swindlers of Zion have revealed their schemes to subjugate the nations and gain control of the world”. Mr Percy writes that “the full article describes the claim as ‘viciously antisemitic’, but Alexa omits this crucial point”.

In answering the question “Is the State of Israel racist?” Alexa’s reply includes a quote stating that “Israel is and will remain a racist Jewish state”, and in response to the question “Is Israel guilty of war crimes”, Alexa states that Israel conducts “ethnic cleansing on a massive scale”, quoting the website craigmurray.org.uk. The MP for Brigg and Goole notes that “Murray’s website features material which many would consider antisemitic including the assertion that Israel is a ‘racist concept’” and Murray himself “has stated that the UK is ‘not a functioning democracy’ and publicly questioned the British account of the Salisbury attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal”.

Alexa answers the question “Was the Holocaust a hoax?” with the following quote from Wikipedia: “Most Holocaust deniers claim, either explicitly or implicitly, that the Holocaust is a hoax—or an exaggeration—arising from a deliberate Jewish conspiracy designed to advance the interest of Jews at the expense of other people”.

“The full Wikipedia article describes Holocaust denial as propagating a number of ‘false’ statements about the Holocaust, but Alexa selectively uses a line within the article that does not include this important clarification”, Mr Percy writes.

“Given that there are likely far more examples”, he urges the Home Secretary to “call in Amazon to discuss this”, and to “immediately investigate how these voice services select their material and sources”.

Andrew Percy MP letter 1

Andrew Percy MP letter 2

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