Mar 25 • 58M


On the strange story of Joshua Browder and DoNotPay

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Blocked and Reported
Journalists Katie Herzog and Jesse Singal scour the internet for its craziest, silliest, most sociopathic content, part of an obsessive and ill-conceived attempt to extract kernels of meaning and humanity from a landscape of endless raging dumpster fires.
Episode details

After Jesse regales Katie with his famous Boston Bit (tm) and Katie catches Jesse up on every single thing that has happened on Twitter since he left, the two discuss the case of DoNotPay and Joshua Browder. Are we on the brink of robot lawyers effortlessly guiding underprivileged clients through difficult legal proceedings? Or is, like, literally none of that going to happen?

Show notes/Links

Anti-Italian hate crime

Beware The Hard R:

“Chatbot lawyer overturns 160,000 parking tickets in London and New York”

Browder <3 Buffett

Above The Law on the then-new version of DoNotPay

The legal actions offered on DoNotPay cover an impressive range. One feature allows users to file a claim in any small claims court in the country, including all 3,000 counties in the 50 states. Perhaps even more significant in the current political climate, DoNotPay includes a service that claims to help users obtain green cards and visas, eliminating the usual service fees. Other service offerings include searching for hidden class action settlements you’re owed, fighting credit card and overdraft fees, suing tech companies for data breaches, and collecting money from hotel and airline bookings through price protection guarantees. And, of course, you can still fight parking tickets, which is how DoNotPay got its start in the first place.

The Verge in 2022

DoNotPay, the company that bills itself as “the world’s first robot lawyer,” is launching a new AI-powered chatbot that can help you negotiate bills and cancel subscriptions without having to deal with customer service. In a demo of the tool posted by DoNotPay CEO Joshua Browder, the chatbot manages to get a discount on a Comcast internet bill through Xfinity’s live chat. Once it connects with a customer service representative, the bot asks for a better rate using account details provided by the customer. The chatbot cites problems with Xfinity’s services and threatens to take legal action, to which the representative responds by offering to take $10 off the customer’s monthly internet bill.


Techdirt weighs in


People also point out a rather straightforward obstacle to Browder’s plan now memorialized in one of those helpful boxes


Kathryn Tewson

Deleted tweet

More on deleted tweets

In one tweet, Browder apparently said that his team had issued a subpoena written by the AI to get the officer involved to appear in court

Not strictly against the rules

Not “outright illegal”

The website no work

“Hey - thank you for signing up for donotpay. We have good intentions and are happy to respond to your feedback.” [REBLOCKS]

“Good morning! Bad news”

incredibly exciting announcements


NPR covers the aborted robot lawyer attempt

Actual legal experts

It gets worse

Very literal phrasing


Might as well look into earlier claims too

The Guardian’s source for this claim is… a Medium post from Browder himself.

TechDirt notes that they’d been suspicious of those same claims way back in 2017, but decided not to run the story

So recently Browder went on the LawNext podcast and it didn’t go well — he calls the controversy “A Bit Of A Nothingburger”

Tewson actually went on the very next episode

Ruh roh

All’s well that ends well?

Dead cougar or whatever

Image: “robot lawyer in court” via DALL-E 2