Towards Bridging the Gaps between the Right to Explanation and the Right to be Forgotten

Satyapriya Krishna, Jiaqi Ma, Himabindu Lakkaraju

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The Right to Explanation and the Right to be Forgotten are two important principles outlined to regulate algorithmic decision making and data usage in real-world applications. While the right to explanation allows individuals to request an actionable explanation for an algorithmic decision, the right to be forgotten grants them the right to ask for their data to be deleted from all the databases and models of an organization. Intuitively, enforcing the right to be forgotten may trigger model updates which in turn invalidate previously provided explanations, thus violating the right to explanation. In this work, we investigate the technical implications arising due to the interference between the two aforementioned regulatory principles, and propose the first algorithmic framework to resolve the tension between them. To this end, we formulate a novel optimization problem to generate explanations that are robust to model updates due to the removal of training data instances by data deletion requests. We then derive an efficient approximation algorithm to handle the combinatorial complexity of this optimization problem. We theoretically demonstrate that our method generates explanations that are provably robust to worst-case data deletion requests with bounded costs in case of linear models and certain classes of non-linear models. Extensive experimentation with real-world datasets demonstrates the efficacy of the proposed framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17808-17826
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of Machine Learning Research
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes
Event40th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2023 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: Jul 23 2023Jul 29 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Statistics and Probability


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