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Chinese Authorities Arrest a Man Over Fake News Stories by ChatGPT

Wesam Abo Marq Wesam Abo Marq
19th May 2023
Chinese Authorities Arrest a Man Over Fake News Stories by ChatGPT
ChatGPT is banned in China (Twitter)

A man has been taken into custody by Chinese officials in the Gansu province of Northern China on suspicion of utilizing ChatGPT to produce fabricated news articles. This action seems to be among the initial arrests carried out in accordance with China's recent anti-AI regulations, which include measures to prevent the misuse of artificial intelligence platforms for disseminating "false information." 

The incident highlights the government's efforts to regulate and exert control over AI applications as technology advances.

Chinese Police Arrest Man for Spreading Fake News Using ChatGPT

Chinese authorities have taken their first enforcement action under a groundbreaking artificial intelligence law, arresting a man accused of utilizing ChatGPT to create a fabricated news article about a train crash.

According to the police’s statement, the arrest took place in Gansu province in northwest China, where the detained individual, identified as Mr. Hong, is alleged to have disseminated a news story about a train accident resulting in nine fatalities. An investigation revealed that over 20 accounts shared this article on a popular blogging platform owned by Chinese search giant Baidu, accumulating more than 15,000 views.

A supporting image within the article body
Photo Description: A screenshot of the police’s statement.

Hong is accused of using ChatGPT to generate altered versions of the fabricated news article, enabling him to pass duplication checks on the Baidu-owned platform.

According to the Gansu authorities, the suspect named Hong underwent questioning on May 5 in Dongguan, located in the southern Guangdong province. In their official statement, the Gansu police stated that Hong had employed contemporary technology to fabricate false information, which he then disseminated widely on the internet. Additionally, the police specified that Hong's actions could be categorized as "picking quarrels and provoking trouble," elucidating the nature of the offense with which he was charged.

China's Train Crashes Remain a Sensitive Issue Since 2011

China remains highly sensitive to train crashes since the 2011 incident in Wenzhou, where authorities faced scrutiny for the delayed updates from state media following a bullet train collision that claimed 40 lives. 

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Photo Description: A screenshot of The CNN’s article.

The government's response to a deadly bullet train collision near Wenzhou has triggered nationwide outrage, even as the affected high-speed rail lines resume operations. 

The collision occurred when a train was rear-ended, resulting in a death toll of at least 40, including two American citizens, and leaving nearly 200 injured. The initial train came to a halt on the tracks due to a power outage, causing six cars, including four from an elevated bridge, to derail.

China Enacts a New Law to Combat Deep Fakes

Gansu province witnessed its first arrest since the introduction of new regulations by China's Cyberspace Administration in January, targeting the misuse of deep fakes. State broadcaster CGTN reported that it was the country's inaugural arrest of an individual accused of utilizing ChatGPT to create and propagate fake news.

The recently enacted legislation prohibits users from generating deep fake content on subjects already banned by existing laws in China's heavily censored online space. Additionally, the regulations outline procedures for removing false or harmful content.

China drafted this law in response to the growing popularity of ChatGPT, aiming to proactively address potential concerns associated with the technology. The country's heavily regulated and controlled internet environment has prompted Beijing to introduce legislation governing emerging technologies that could pose challenges for the central government.

ChatGPT Is Banned in China

ChatGPT, developed by the American company OpenAI, is an example of a chatbot powered by generative AI technology. This technology enables the software to generate responses by analyzing user prompts and inquiries. For instance, users can request ChatGPT to produce a story based on specific instructions.

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Photo Description: A screenshot of The Guardian’s article.

While ChatGPT is inaccessible in China, individuals can still utilize it by employing a virtual private network (VPN), which assists in bypassing the country's internet restrictions.

Chinese Internet Giants Aim to Catch Up with OpenAI 

Chinese Internet Giants, Baidu and Alibaba, Introduce Competing ChatGPT Services as China Tightens Regulations on Generative AI.

Baidu introduced "Wenxin Yiyan" or "ERNIE Bot" in March, followed by Alibaba's "Tongyi Qianwen" in May, as both companies strive to catch up with OpenAI's ChatGPT service. In response to these developments, China's cyberspace regulator issued draft guidelines last month, outlining the requirement for security reviews of generative AI services before they can operate. The guidelines also mandate the verification of users' real identities and the provision of comprehensive information regarding data usage, algorithms, and technical aspects by service providers.

Misbar’s Sources:





Spotlight on China

The Guardian