Digital deceptive practices: Dark Patterns get blacked out

– Vinod Kothari,

Central Consumer Protection Authority (“CCPA”), issued the Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023 (“Guidelines”) on November 30, 2023 to prohibit any person or platform from engaging in the dark pattern practices.

Dark Patterns Explained

The term “dark patterns” was first coined by Harry Brignull a long time back in 2011, when digital marketing was in its early phases. “We might not like to admit it but deception is deeply entwined with life on this planet. Insects evolved to use it, animals employ it in their behavior, and of course, we humans use it to manipulate, control, and profit from each other. With this in mind it’s no surprise that deception appears in various guises in user interfaces on the web today”, he said. And his prognosis was absolutely correct: most e-commerce marketing employs devices to make consumers pay for what they would, based on application of free discretion, not have procured.

Dark patterns are tricky user interfaces “that benefit an online service by leading users into making decisions they might not otherwise make. Some dark patterns deceive users while others covertly manipulate or coerce them into choices that are not in their best interests” [Arvind Narayanan and Others, March 2020].

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