Centre to Issue Norms Against ‘Dark Patterns’ in Online Advertisements

Source: The post is based on the following articles:

–  “Centre to issue norms against ‘dark patterns’ in online advertisements” published in The Hindu on 1st July 2023

– “Department of Consumer Affairs urges online platforms to refrain from adopting ‘dark patterns’ harming consumer interestpublished in PIB on 1st July 2023

What is the News?

The Central Government has said that strict action will be taken against online players if they do not stop the menace of ‘dark patterns’.

What are Dark Patterns?

Dark Patterns involves using a design and choice architecture to trick, coerce or influence consumers to make choices not in their best interest. 

What are some examples of Dark Patterns?

False Urgency: This tactic creates a sense of urgency or scarcity to pressure consumers into making a purchase or taking action.

Basket Sneaking: Websites or apps use dark patterns to add additional products or services to the shopping cart without user consent.

Subscription Traps: This tactic makes it easy for consumers to sign up for a service but difficult for them to cancel it, often by hiding the cancellation option or requiring multiple steps.

Forced Action: This involves forcing consumers into taking an action they may not want to take, such as signing up for a service in order to access content.

Bait and Switch: This involves advertising one product or service but delivering another, often of lower quality.

Hidden Costs: This tactic involves hiding additional costs from consumers until they are already committed to making a purchase

Disguised Ads: Disguised ads are advertisements that are designed to look like other types of content, such as news articles or user-generated content.

What are the measures the Government of India is taking against Dark Patterns?

Engaging in such deceptive and manipulative conduct by using dark patterns in online platforms constitutes ‘unfair trade practice’ under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

Consumers can report instances of ‘dark patterns’ or provide feedback and report such manipulative online practices on the National Consumer Helpline (NCH).

The Centre has also constituted a 17-member task force to prepare guidelines on protecting consumers against dark patterns.

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