“Meaningful Information” and the Right to Explanation


Andrew Selbst, Julia Powles ;
Proceedings of the 1st Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, PMLR 81:48-48, 2018.


There is no single, neat statutory provision labeled the “right to explanation” in Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But nor is such a right illusory. Responding to two prominent papers that, in turn, conjure and critique the right to explanation in the context of automated decision-making, we advocate a return to the text of the GDPR. Articles 13–15 provide rights to “meaningful information about the logic involved” in automated decisions. This is a right to explanation, whether one uses the phrase or not. The right to explanation should be interpreted functionally, flexibly, and should, at a minimum, enable a data subject to exercise his or her rights under the GDPR and human rights law.

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