Legal chatbot now helping refugees

Legal chatbot now helping refugees

Matt Blowes March 16, 2017 Legal

A chatbot that's helped overturn more than 160,000 parking tickets is now helping asylum seekers with their refugee claims. 

An example of automation in action, DoNotPay originally set out to help people avoid unfair or incorrectly issued parking fines. It's what 20-year-old founder Joshua Browder calls, "the world's first robot lawyer". 

The chatbot's new purpose is to also help asylum seekers. Specifically, by allowing them to complete complicated immigration forms without a third party. It does this by translating the forms into plain English. 

The automated bot uses Facebook Messenger to ask a series of questions. It first determines whether an asylum seeker may be eligible, then it will ask further questions to automatically complete relevant immigration forms. A process that would traditionally require a lawyer. 

DoNotPay Facebook Messenger bot

 

Despite how useful the bot may be, it is still in its infancy. The bot can only communicate in English and Facebook Messenger is not an encrypted service. A factor that may put-off people fleeing persecution. However Browder said messages are deleted on the bot's servers within ten minutes and feature expansion, including Arabic language support is on the horizon.

“Ideally I would love to expand to WhatsApp when their platform opens up, particularly because it’s popular internationally.”

The refugee-assistance chatbot is available for asylum seekers claiming in the US, UK and Canada. No indication has been given that it will spread to other countries. 

 

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