This blog article is an excerpt and adaptation of the full paper Fusco, F. (2022). Artificial intelligence and fake news: Criminal aspects in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Journal of Criminology, 14(4), 19-33.
By Dr. Federico Fusco, Assistant Professor, PMU.
Fake news, a global phenomenon, undermines the integrity of information, democracy, and human rights (Gelfert, 2018). The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) has rendered the generation and dissemination of fake news more sophisticated and challenging to detect and combat (Kreps, McCain, & Brundage, 2022). Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, too, grapple with the impact of AI-generated fake news, confronting unique challenges in their legal and regulatory frameworks to address this issue (Ali, 2023; Alqahtani, 2016). This blog post explores the criminal aspects of AI-generated fake news in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the hurdles faced in investigating and prosecuting such cases, and the legal and regulatory frameworks that aim to tackle this growing problem.
II. AI-Generated Fake News and its Challenges:
AI-generated fake news involves employing AI technologies to craft and disseminate false or misleading information, making it increasingly arduous to distinguish between credible and illegitimate news (Bontridder & Poullet, 2021). Malicious actors now utilize AI tools to create realistic-looking fake news stories that can be effortlessly propagated through social media platforms (Botha & Pieterse, 2020). Existing detection methods fall short in effectiveness, and the pervasiveness of filter bubbles and confirmation bias aggravates the issue (Figueira & Oliveira, 2017).
The pressing concern of AI-generated fake news in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia calls for developing strategies to counter its impact (Langendorf, 2022). Both countries have witnessed the prevalence and impact of fake news, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic (Kanozia & Arya, 2021; Alshammari, 2023).
III. Pakistan's Legal Provisions and Challenges:
In Pakistan, the legal framework for addressing fake news comprises the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016, the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 1860, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) (PECA, 2016; Pakistan Penal Code, 1860). However, various factors challenge the effectiveness of these provisions, including the origin and anonymity of AI-generated fake news, the lack of technical expertise in detecting and prosecuting such cases, and inadequacies in the legal framework (Hameed, Qaiser, & Qaiser, 2021).
The Pakistani government must strengthen its legal and regulatory frameworks and devise strategies to address the challenges posed by AI-generated fake news (Mir & Siddiqui, 2022).
IV. Saudi Arabia's Legal Provisions and Challenges:
In Saudi Arabia, the primary legal provision for addressing cybercrimes, including AI-generated fake news, is the Anti-Cyber Crime Law (2007) (Anti-Cyber Crime Law, 2007). This law categorizes cybercrimes into three severity groups and stipulates penalties for each group (Alqahtani, 2016). Nevertheless, challenges persist in prosecuting AI-generated fake news cases, such as identifying the fake news' origin, using anonymity tools, and manipulating public opinion (Al-khudair, 2020).
To confront these challenges, Saudi Arabia must enforce stricter regulations and guidelines, develop AI tools for detection and analysis, and raise public awareness about the perils of AI-generated fake news (Abbas, 2023).
V. Legal Approaches and Conclusion:
Both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have taken steps to address AI-generated fake news by criminalizing certain aspects of its creation and dissemination. For instance, Pakistan's PECA 2016 criminalizes hate speech, while Saudi Arabia's Anti-Cyber Crime Law 2007 criminalizes inciting public disorder (PECA, 2016; Anti-Cyber Crime Law, 2007). However, both countries must address certain areas to effectively combat AI-generated fake news.
One area requiring improvement is the clarity of definitions and the scope of legal provisions. Ambiguity within the legal framework can lead to potential misuse of power, as demonstrated in Pakistan through the broad powers granted to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) under PECA 2016 (Kishwar & Zafar, 2023). Both countries should consider refining their legal definitions and provisions to provide more precise guidelines for law enforcement agencies.
Another area needing enhancement is the enforcement mechanisms in place to investigate and prosecute cases of AI-generated fake news. As mentioned earlier, both countries face challenges in identifying the origin of fake news and the use of anonymity tools by malicious actors (Al-Asadi & Tasdemir, 2022). The development and implementation of advanced AI tools for detection and analysis can help overcome these challenges and bolster law enforcement efforts (Begishev, 2023).
Collaboration between different stakeholders is also crucial in the fight against AI-generated fake news. Governments, law enforcement agencies, technology companies, and civil society should work together to develop and implement effective strategies to counter the spread of fake news (Peters, 2018).
Finally, public awareness and media literacy campaigns are essential to fostering a more resilient society that can withstand the influence of AI-generated fake news. By educating the public on how to recognize fake news, discern credible sources, and think critically about the information they consume, both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia can effectively counter the spread of AI-generated fake news (Hirlekar & Kumar, 2020).
In conclusion, AI-generated fake news poses a pressing concern for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, presenting unique challenges to their legal and regulatory frameworks. By improving the clarity of definitions, strengthening enforcement mechanisms, fostering collaboration, and promoting public awareness and media literacy, both countries can effectively combat the growing threat of AI-generated fake news and safeguard the rule of law and public order.
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