Watch VICE News Tonight on HBO weekdays at 7:30. Part of the European Union’s sweeping new privacy regulations could change how people apply for loans, credit cards, and even jobs online.

The new law, called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, goes into effect Friday and gives EU residents new rights and greater control over their information online, even the ability to have it completely erased. But GDPR goes beyond just protecting personal data and could radically affect how people interact with the algorithms that control so much of the internet.

Algorithms increasingly power everything people do and see online, from what Instagram stories display in their feeds to what ads they see on Facebook. The way companies make those decisions are nearly invisible to them — but they’re calculated from highly specific data about how people use an app or service.

Starting Friday, certain provisions under GDPR give people a new “right to explanation,” as legal experts call it, to avoid a Kafkaesque future where people can’t question the decisions made by artificial intelligence that affect everyday life. GDPR articles 13, 14, 15, and 22, for example, refer to instances of automated decision-making that produce “legal” or “similarly significant” effects.

Those cases could include a credit application or online job recruiting software, where people may have the right to “meaningful information about the logic involved,” according to the law, in a decision made entirely by an algorithm. “The meat of this whole point is the fear that a lot of people have that automated decision-making will be unaccountable,” said Andrew Selbst, a civil rights attorney and researcher with the Yale Information Society Project. Read more from…

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