Scholarship Reporter Newsletter

December 2018

Meaningful Information and the Right to Explanation

The authors believe the discourse about the right to explanation has, thus far, gone in an unproductive direction. The authors posit that there is a fierce disagreement over whether these provisions create a data subject’s ‘right to explanation’. This article attempts to reorient that debate by showing that the plain text of the GDPR supports such a right. The authors believe that the right to explanation should be interpreted functionally, flexibly, and at a minimum, enable a data subject to exercise his or her rights under the GDPR and human rights law. To make their point, they offer a critique of the two most prominent papers in the debate.

Abstract

There is no single, neat statutory provision labelled 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.

"Meaningful Information and the Right to Explanation" by A. D, Selbst, J. Powles International Data Privacy Law, Volume 7, Issue 4, 1 November 2017, Pages 233–242