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Business News/ News / India/  Govt seeks public comments on dark patterns
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Govt seeks public comments on dark patterns

The government has sought comments on the draft guidelines for the prevention and regulation of dark patterns, which are digital design interfaces used to manipulate customer behaviour.


NEW DELHI : The government has sought comments from the public on its draft guidelines for the prevention and regulation of dark patterns, which are digital design interfaces used to manipulate customer behaviour, the ministry of consumer affairs said on Thursday.

These draft guidelines have been framed after detailed deliberations with all stakeholders including e-commerce platforms, law firms, government and voluntary consumer organisations (VCOs).

The draft guidelines define dark patterns as “practices or deceptive design patterns using user interface and user experience interactions on any platform, which are designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend to do by subverting the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice, amounting to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights".

The guidelines have specified 10 dark patterns -- false urgency, basket sneaking, confirm shaming, forced action, subscription trap, interface interference, bait and switch, drip pricing, disguised advertisement and nagging.

“Guidelines would be made applicable to all the persons and online platforms including sellers and advertisers," it added.

According to the guidelines, ‘false urgency’ means falsely stating or implying the sense of urgency or scarcity so as to mislead a user into making an immediate purchase.

‘Basket sneaking’ is the inclusion of additional items such as products, services, payments to charity/donation at the time of checkout, without the consent of the user.

‘Confirm shaming’ means using a phrase, video, audio or any other means to create a sense of fear or shame or ridicule or guilt in the mind of the user, so as to nudge the user to to make a purchase.

‘Forced action’ means forcing a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy any additional goods or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service, in order to buy or subscribe to the product/service originally intended by the user.

‘Subscription trap’ means the process of making cancellation of a paid subscription impossible or a complex and lengthy process including similar other practices.

‘Interface interference’ means 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 in order to misdirect a user from taking a desired action.

‘Bait and switch’ means the practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the user’s action but deceptively serving an alternate outcome.

‘Drip pricing’ means a practice whereby-elements of prices are not revealed upfront or are revealed surreptitiously within the user experience; and/or other such practices

‘Disguised advertisement’ means a practice of posing, masking advertisements as other types of content such as user generated content or new articles or false advertisements.

‘Nagging’ means a dark pattern due to which users face an overload of requests, information, options, or interruptions; unrelated to the intended purchase of goods or services, which disrupts the intended transaction.

“The objective of the guidelines is to identify and regulate such practices which tend to manipulate or alter consumer choices, often by using deceptive or misleading techniques or manipulated user interfaces/web designs," the statement said.

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Published: 07 Sep 2023, 11:22 PM IST
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