Freedom of Expression vs Right to have Correct Information

Shaista Tabassum 

Professor of international Relations 

Dean faculty of Arts and Social Sciences 

University of Karachi, Pakistan

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right as given by Art 19 of the UDHR. The basic gain of this freedom is to increase knowledge and create understanding by dialogue on any issue among the people in any society. For any democratic culture the freedom of expression is the essential and primary stepping stone for democratic values to grow. 

In Pakistan, public faced suspension of social media when the government in the end of December2023 has gradually limited the use of social media platforms. Initially by limited access and later on slowing down the X (formerly Twitter) Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Needless to mention that Pakistan is among the top most subscriber of Facebook in the World. It was reported that due to the underwater cable faults the access to internet was slowed down, however, later on the blocking was unofficially accepted on grounds that  it was due to the presence of blasphemous content or religious immorality on the social media [atforms. The blocking was primarily caused due to reports of the misuses of social media against the government, judiciary and the military establishment. The material used by the political opponents to spread disinformation based on propaganda and twisted facts using AI technology, thus creating chaos, anti-state and anti-military establishment propaganda. In societies like Pakistan where the literacy rate is below 60% there are high chances of public being easily influenced by the disinformation. Growing concerns were expressed by the religious community on the available online content and literature as misinterpretation of Islamic laws and practices equally challenging the very fabric of the society. Pakistani society is a conservative internally and is extremely sensitive on religious sectarian lines. The material on sensitive issues linked to blasphemy and pornographic material is popular and has wide market especially among the illiterate and rural young people. 

The freedom of expression is the basic human right of an individual, if it is denied, restrained or limited he or she cannot be consider as free. Every individual has complete freedom of thinking expression and writing. Any restriction is the violation of the principles of international Human rights laws.  The debate on freedom of expression becomes more complex when the use of such rights violates or caused damage to the rights of others. Thus it is agreed by international conventions that the freedom of expression is not an unrestricted right it must be balanced by the duties or responsibilities abide by the state the media and the individuals alike.  The 1950 European convention on HR very clearly agreed that this right may be limited. The primary reason being the protection of other’s rights. Article 10 of the convention is the crux of this debate, which says’

‘’everyone has the right to freedom of expression” but that this freedom may by subject to restrictions for a variety of reasons, including to protect the rights of others: The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

This leads to yet to an extended discussion on the concept of Human rights. At the tip of the ice burg, every individual has the right to have knowledge and information but which is authentic, correct and genuine knowledge based on truth and facts not fictions or disinformation. Plato believed that knowledge is achievable but for him true knowledge must be trustworthy and also of the real. Any state of mind which cannot defend this claims cannot be the true knowledge.

While looking it from this angle it appears that the laws introduced by any government in such situation where the flood of information/disinformation is influencing the minds of the people the freedom of expression and the right of genuine information coincide in the state policy. The government as the custodian of the people security in every respect preferred that the public must be given right information. Now it is up to the masses to decide which right they prefer to have. Correct information or freedom of expression.

Cyberwarfare and human rights

Impact of AI and the Dark Web on Democratic Process

Cássius Guimarães Chai


The emergence of cyber warfare has introduced a new dimension to discussions on human rights, particularly in terms of disinformation campaigns and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) on the Dark Web to shape public opinion.

Using AI in disinformation campaigns poses a significant threat to democratic processes, as it can mislead voters and undermine elections on an unprecedented scale (Swenson, 2023). In this regard, we can cite the Brazilian example during the presidential campaign back in 2018 and the very recent attempt at the legitimate electoral proceedings of 2022. This is particularly concerning because AI-generated disinformation has become increasingly sophisticated, incorporating synthetic media designed to confuse voters, defame candidates, or even incite violence (Swenson, 2023). Nonetheless, this asymmetric narrative warfare can also be perceived in armed conflicts.

The Dark Web, intentionally hidden and inaccessible through standard browsers, has also been implicated in these disinformation campaigns. Its anonymity makes it an ideal platform for spreading false information and coordinating cyberattacks (Bhattacharya, 2021).

Disinformation campaigns not only undermine democratic processes but also erode public trust in these processes. Studies show that misinformation can damage public confidence in democracy. False or exaggerated claims are frequently disseminated by foreign interests to undermine election outcomes (Brookings Institution, 2022).

Using AI and the Dark Web in disinformation campaigns raises significant human rights concerns. For instance, the right to privacy can be infringed upon by collecting and using personal data in these campaigns (RAND Corporation, 2023). Furthermore, the right to freedom of thought can be compromised when individuals or groups are influenced by information manipulation (UNODC, 2023). Countering these threats requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes efforts to detect and counter deepfakes (RAND Corporation, 2023), development of strategies to counter disinformation (RAND Corporation, 2022), and regulation of the dark web (Bhattacharya, 2021). Usefully, the tactics depleted by contemporary counter-disinformation organizations can be grouped into six high-level strategies: refutation, exposure of inauthenticity, alternative narratives, algorithmic filter manipulation, speech laws, and censorship (Stray, 2019), in the form of gag orders, for example. However, these efforts must also be balanced against the need to uphold human rights, such as freedom of expression (MIT News, 2022).

In conclusion, the intricate issue of cyber warfare’s impact on human rights demands a more critical perspective that delves deeper into the subject. While it is crucial to safeguard individuals and societies from the harmful effects of cyberattacks, it is equally important to ensure that measures to combat cyber warfare and cybercrime respect and uphold human rights. A more constructive approach to addressing this issue involves engagement and developing policies that strike a balance not only between security and human rights, but also a more coherent and effective commitment of all the international community with a truly shared equal ethical, and accountable understanding of the meaning of human dignity. Only then can we effectively combat cyber threats while upholding the fundamental values of our societies.


Brookings Institution. (2022). Misinformation is eroding the public’s confidence in democracy. Retrieved from

Swenson, A. (2023). AI-generated disinformation poses threat of misleading voters in 2024 election. PBS. Retrieved from

RAND Corporation. (2022). Information Warfare: Methods to Counter Disinformation. Retrieved from

Bhattacharya, D. (2021). The Dark Web and Regulatory Challenges. Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. Retrieved from

Brookings Institution. (2023). Despair underlies our misinformation crisis: Introducing an interactive tool. Retrieved from

PBS. (2023). Misleading AI-generated content a top concern among state election officials for 2024. Retrieved from

RAND Corporation. (2023). Combating Foreign Disinformation on Social Media. Retrieved from

Stray, J. (2019). Institutional Counter-disinformation Strategies in a Networked Democracy. Companion Proceedings of The 2019 World Wide Web Conference. Retrieved from

PBS. (2023). U.S. lawmakers question Meta and X over AI-generated political deepfakes ahead of 2024 election. Retrieved from

UNODC. (2023). Cybercrime Module 14 Key Issues: Information Warfare, Disinformation and Electoral Fraud.

Photo: Image by kjpargeter on Freepik