India releases draft guidelines to prevent and regulate dark patterns employed by online platforms

The guidelines define ten dark patterns and apply to all persons and online platforms.

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The Indian Department of Consumer Affairs in India has released draft guidelines for preventing and regulating dark patterns employed by online platforms. These dark patterns are deceptive design practices that manipulate users into unintended actions, ultimately harming consumer interests and violating consumer rights. After extensive consultations with various stakeholders, the guidelines have been formulated to address these practices and promote fairness and transparency in the digital marketplace.

The draft guidelines define dark patterns as deceptive design practices that mislead or trick users into unintended actions by manipulating the user interface and user experience on any platform. To provide more clarity, the guidelines specifically identify and define ten dark patterns, such as false urgency, basket sneaking, confirm shaming, forced action, subscription trap, interface interference, bait and switch, drip pricing, disguised advertisement, and nagging.

The guidelines will apply to all individuals and online platforms, including sellers and advertisers. Their primary aim is to regulate practices that manipulate or alter consumer choices through deceptive techniques and manipulated web designs. By doing so, the guidelines seek to safeguard consumer interests and ensure fairness in the digital marketplace.

Why does it matter?

India’s Department of Consumer Affairs has been committed to protecting consumer interests and fostering a fair and transparent marketplace, particularly in the rapidly expanding digital space. These guidelines are expected to strengthen the industry and enhance consumer protection. As part of the process, the draft guidelines are open for public feedback for 30 days, allowing the government to consider the opinions and concerns of the public before finalising them.