Website code cracker comes to refugees’ aid
TWO YEARS ago, Finchley teenager Joshua Browder created a website called donotpay.co.uk. The site, which simplified the process of contesting parking tickets, was a huge hit with motorists and garnered acres of press coverage — including an article in the JC.
Mr Browder went on to modify the website’s core computer code to cover various other legal issues, such as helping vulnerable people apply for emergency housing, and dealing with PPI claims.
Now his coding skill is back in the news. He has devised an automated “chatbot” which uses Facebook’s messaging system to talk refugees arriving in the US and Canada through the process of filling in an immigration application.
For UK arrivals, it helps them apply for asylum support.
Mr Browder told the Guardian: “I’ve been trying to launch this for about six months — I initially wanted to do it in the summer. But I wanted to make sure I got it right because it’s such a complicated issue. That took months and months of work.”
With Donald Trump’s revised presidential executive order suspending the US refugee programme for 120 days and adding more uncertainty for refugees seeking a new home in the US, the innovation could hardly be more timely.
The original donotpay site was launched as a free service and has seen over 160,000 parking fines overturned. Mr Broder’s homelessness bot has had more than 3,000 users, with over 240,000 messages processed. The Finchley United Synagogue member already has plans for further innovations.
He told the JC: “I have so many exciting plans coming up, including benefits, pensions and divorce.
“I think that there are so many lawyers charging hundreds of pounds for doing very little.”