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Unfair and Deceptive Robots

48 Pages Posted: 5 May 2015 Last revised: 12 Aug 2017

Woodrow Hartzog

Northeastern University School of Law and College of Computer and Information Science; Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society

Date Written: May 4, 2015

Abstract

Robots, like household helpers, personal digital assistants, automated cars, and personal drones are or will soon be available to consumers. These robots raise common consumer protection issues, such as fraud, privacy, data security, and risks to health, physical safety and finances. Robots also raise new consumer protection issues, or at least call into question how existing consumer protection regimes might be applied to such emerging technologies. Yet it is unclear which legal regimes should govern these robots and what consumer protection rules for robots should look like.

The thesis of the Article is that the FTC’s grant of authority and existing jurisprudence make it the preferable regulatory agency for protecting consumers who buy and interact with robots. The FTC has proven to be a capable regulator of communications, organizational procedures, and design, which are the three crucial concepts for safe consumer robots. Additionally, the structure and history of the FTC shows that the agency is capable of fostering new technologies as it did with the Internet. The agency generally defers to industry standards, avoids dramatic regulatory lurches, and cooperates with other agencies. Consumer robotics is an expansive field with great potential. A light but steady response by the FTC will allow the consumer robotics industry to thrive while preserving consumer trust and keeping consumers safe from harm.

Keywords: robots, privacy, FTC, consumer protection, data security, advertising, marketing

Suggested Citation

Hartzog, Woodrow, Unfair and Deceptive Robots (May 4, 2015). 74 Maryland Law Review 785 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2602452

Woodrow Hartzog (Contact Author)

Northeastern University School of Law and College of Computer and Information Science ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.northeastern.edu/law/faculty/directory/hartzog.html

Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society ( email )

Palo Alto, CA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/profile/woodrow-hartzog

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