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Centre releases guidelines on ‘dark patterns’ that mislead consumers

A dark pattern, also known as deceptive design pattern, is where “a user interface that has been carefully crafted to trick users into doing things, such as buying overpriced insurance with their purchase or signing up for recurring bills”.

Harry Brignull, a user experience designer came up with this term in 2010 and created a website where Brignull addresses the growing issue of deceptive design practices that happen on various digital platforms.

As defined by Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA), dark patterns are “any practices or deceptive design patterns using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions on any platform; designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do; by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice; amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.”

Now, the CCPA has notified Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, 2023, issued under section 18 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2019, in the Official Gazette on November 30.

Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) along with the Advertising Standards Counsil of India (ASCI) conducted an interactive consultation with stakeholders on “dark patterns.”

The report has draft Guidelines on Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns.

Falsely stating or implying the sense of urgency or scarcity so as to mislead a user into making an immediate purchase or take an immediate action, which may lead to purchase.

Inclusion of additional items such as products, services, payments to charity/donation at the time of checkout from a platform, without the consent of the user, such that the total amount payable by the user is more than the amount payable for the product or the service chosen by the user.

Using a phrase, video, audio, or any other means to create a sense of fear or shame or ridicule or guilt in users’ mind, so as to nudge the user to act in a certain way that results in the user purchasing a product or service from the platform or continuing a subscription of a service.

Forcing a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy any additional good or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service, in order to buy or subscribe to the product originally intended by the use.

A design element that manipulates the user interface in ways that highlights certain specific information and obscures other relevant information relative to the other information, to misdirect a user from taking an action desired by her.

The practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the users’ action but deceptively serving an alternate outcome.

A dark pattern due to which users face an overload of requests, information, options or interruptions unrelated to the intended purchase of good or services which disrupts the intended transaction.

Dec 02,2023

Source: Deccanherald