Detecting New Approaches for a Fundamental Rights Impact Assessment to Automated Decision-Making

31 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2019

See all articles by Heleen Janssen

Heleen Janssen

University of Cambridge - Computer Laboratory

Date Written: December 17, 2018


Companies and other private institutions see great and promising profits in the use of automated decision-making (‘ADM’) for commercial-, financial- or efficiency in work processing purposes. Meanwhile, ADM based on a data subjects’ personal data may (severely) impact its fundamental rights and freedoms. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides for a regulatory framework that applies whenever a controller considers and deploys ADM onto individuals on the basis of their personal data. In the design stage of the intended ADM, article 35 (3)(a) obliges a controller to apply a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA), part of which is an assessment of ADM’s impact on individual rights and freedoms. Article 22 GDPR determines under what conditions ADM is allowed and endows data subjects with increased protection.

Research among companies of various sizes has shown that there is (legal) insecurity about the interpretation of the GDPR (including the provisions relevant to ADM). The first objective of the author is to detect ways forward by offering practical handles to execute a DPIA that includes a slidable assessment of impacts on data subjects’ fundamental rights. This assessment is based on four benchmarks that should help to assess the gravity of potential impacts, i.e. i) to determine the impact on the fundamental right(s) at stake, ii) to establish the context in which the ADM is used, iii) the establishment of who is beneficiary of the use of personal data in the ADM and iv) the establishment who is in control over the data flows in the ADM. From the benchmarks an overall fundamental rights impact assessment about ADM should arise. A second objective is to indicate potential factors and measures that a controller should consider in its risk management after the assessment. The proposed approach should help fostering fair, compliant and trustworthy ADM and contains directions for future research.

Keywords: automated decision-making, fundamental rights, impact assessment, horizontal relations

Suggested Citation

Janssen, Heleen, Detecting New Approaches for a Fundamental Rights Impact Assessment to Automated Decision-Making (December 17, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Heleen Janssen (Contact Author)

University of Cambridge - Computer Laboratory ( email )

15 JJ Thomson Avenue
William Gates Building
Cambridge, CB3 0FD
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics