Et Tu, Android? Regulating Dangerous and Dishonest Robots

Woodrow Neal Hartzog


Consumer robots like personal digital assistants, automated cars, robot companions, chore-bots, and personal drones raise common consumer protection issues, such as fraud, privacy, data security, and risks to health, physical safety, and finances. They 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.

This paper argues that the FTC’s grant of authority and existing jurisprudence are well-suited 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. 


human-robot interaction, consumer protection, anthropomorphism, automation

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