Crootof paper on the legal consequences of repossessions by cars that autonomously drive back to the lender

Rebecca Crootof of Richmond Law and the Yale Information Society Project has written Remote Repossession, 73 DePaul Law Review, (forthcoming 2024). Here’s the abstract:

Ford’s February 2023 patent application raises a new possibility: that after a default, an internet-connected vehicle might autonomously drive itself off of the owner’s premises—to a public space, to the repossession agency, or even to a junkyard. But while this “remote repossession” would minimize the risks of harm that attend in-person repossessions, it creates at least three new risks. First, a danger of bodily injury and property damage to the owner. Second, an increased likelihood of physical harm to a third-party with no obviously responsible entity. And third, most invisibly but also perhaps most importantly: further erosion of consumers’ current structural rights—which might include a right against intrusions, a right to a certain amount of due process and human engagement before a repossession, and a right to be free from foreseeable harms associated with corporate remote interference.

I employ a “techlaw methodology” to explore what legal changes would better protect us—as potential defaulting owners, as possibly harmed third-parties, and as consumers who must increasingly rely on corporations to take reasonable care when engaging in digital self-help.

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