Articles  |  ,   |  July 22, 2019

The Right to Explanation, Explained

Journal article by Margot E. Kaminski.
Published in Berkeley Technology Law Journal.


Many have called for algorithmic accountability: laws governing decision-making by complex algorithms, or AI. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) now establishes exactly this. The recent debate over the right to explanation (a right to information about individual decisions made by algorithms) has obscured the significant algorithmic accountability regime established by the GDPR. The GDPR’s provisions on algorithmic accountability, which include a right to explanation, have the potential to be broader, stronger, and deeper than the preceding requirements of the Data Protection Directive. This Essay clarifies, largely for a U.S. audience, what the GDPR actually requires, incorporating recently released authoritative guidelines.