Bahrain Shura Council Approves New Law to Regulate the Use of Artificial Intelligence

Individuals exploiting AI technologies may face imprisonment and fines of up to BD2,0000

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Judith Mariya

Published on April 30, 2024, 12:59:06


bahrain shura council, artifical intelligence, imprisonment, ai technology


A new law to regulate the use of artificial intelligence (AI) has been approved in Bahrain. Under this law, individuals exploiting AI technologies to make decisions requiring human intervention or assessment may face fines of up to BD1,000.

The newly approved legislation, consisting of 38 articles, was unanimously passed by the Shura Council. Proposed by a group of five members, led by Vice-Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, Ali Al Shehabi, the law will now be drafted by the government as formal legislation and referred to Parliament within six months.

The legislative and legal affairs committee of the Shura Council recommended the law's approval after consulting with officials from various ministries and agencies, including Interior, Health, Education, Cabinet Affairs, Information, Transportation and Telecommunications, Industry and Commerce, Parliament and Shura Affairs, as well as Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments. Feedback was also sought from entities such as the National Space Science Agency, Bahrain Polytechnic, Information and eGovernment Authority, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Tamkeen.

Committee Chairwoman Dallal Al Zayed described the review process as complex and challenging, emphasising that its implementation would mark a pioneering decision in the region.
Ali Al Shehabi emphasized the growing significance of AI in various domains and stressed the importance of regulating it to prevent potential misuse and future risks. He highlighted Bahrain's intention to integrate AI-driven services across sectors while also addressing concerns about potential criminal activities, such as tampering with voice features, biometrics, official documents, audio and video.

According to the law, individuals utilising AI technologies to make decisions requiring human intervention or assessment may face fines of up to BD1,000.

Additionally, fines of up to BD2,000 may be imposed on those programming or processing AI systems to infringe upon privacy, personal freedoms, social values, or traditions. Misusing AI for discrimination or purposes other than intended could also lead to fines of up to BD2,000.

Penalties ranging from BD2,000 to BD5,000 are stipulated for the unauthorised use of autobots or robots. Programming, processing, inserting, or developing AI systems without a licence could result in fines ranging from BD1,000 to BD10,000.

Serious offenses, such as tampering with official speeches or using AI for deception, manipulation, or malicious intent, may result in imprisonment for up to three years or fines ranging from BD5,000 to BD20,000, or both. Deliberate use of AI to incite unrest, political disturbances, sabotage, or terrorism-related activities may lead to a minimum of three years' imprisonment.

The law also holds establishments accountable for offenses committed by individuals under their employment, with repeat violations potentially resulting in permanent closure or court-determined penalties.

Regarding minors, Chairwoman Dr Fatima Al Kooheji raised concerns about the clarity of consequences and punishments, suggesting the need for awareness campaigns before enforcing the law.
In conclusion, the law establishes a framework to regulate AI use, outlining penalties for various offenses and establishing a special unit for AI oversight.

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