Ivo Pilving

Associate Professor of Administrative Law at the University of Tartu.

In spite of the image of a developed e-governance, advanced automated decision-making (ADM) systems have not been widely used in Estonian public administration and there is still no general legal framework for them. The draft bill to amend the Administrative Procedure Act, which was presented to Parliament in 2022, takes a rather cautious approach to the issue too, significantly limiting the automation of discretionary decisions and in particular the use of self-learning algorithms. Automated administrative decisions would not be discouraged by the application of procedural principles inherent to the rule of law, such as hearing and reasoning. However, for the automation of discretionary decisions in appropriate cases, a solution has been proposed whereby typical cases would be solved in a fully automated way by means of predefined algorithms based on internal administrative guidelines. This solution is not an universal magic bullet for every situation, but may allow for a certain degree of innovation, provided appropriate procedural and organisational safeguards are respected. Fundamental preconditions for that are the categorical separation of the guidance and algorithm, as well as the publication of the guide. An optimal model of public accountability has to encourage authorities to take appropriate precautions when implementing algorithms.

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