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Government prohibits the utilization of ‘dark patterns’ on e-commerce platforms, issues guidelines

The Indian government has implemented a ban on the use of “dark patterns” on e-commerce platforms, aiming to prevent deceptive practices and protect consumer rights. The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) defined dark patterns as misleading advertisements, unfair trade practices, or violations of consumer rights. The guidelines, titled “Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns,” apply to all platforms offering goods and services in India, including advertisers and sellers.

Dark patterns are deceptive design techniques employed by websites and apps to influence users’ behavior and choices. These tactics include creating a sense of urgency with countdown timers, limited-time offers, or pop-up messages that imply limited stock availability. Users may also fall victim to dark patterns when agreeing to share personal data or location without thoroughly reviewing the fine print.

The guidelines aim to address various dark patterns and prevent their use in the e-commerce landscape. The implementation of dark patterns could lead to penalties under the Consumer Protection Act, although the specific quantum of penalties was not detailed in the notification.




ecommerce: Govt seeks public comments on draft guidelines for regulation of dark  patterns on online platforms - The Economic Times
ecommerce: Govt seeks public comments on draft guidelines for regulation of dark patterns on online platforms

The guidelines seek to bring clarity to unfair trading practices and provide a framework for stakeholders, including buyers, sellers, marketplaces, and regulators. The Consumer Protection Act holds entities liable for unfair trading practices, emphasizing the need for transparency and ethical conduct in the e-commerce sector.

E-commerce players could face penalties for deceptive practices, such as pushing news articles or false advertisements designed to blend seamlessly with the platform’s interface. The guidelines also extend to preventing misleading advertisements and endorsements, ensuring that e-commerce entities adhere to ethical advertising practices.

Examples of dark patterns outlined in the guidelines include falsely inflating the popularity of a product or service, creating artificial time-bound pressure for purchases, and automatically adding paid ancillary services during checkout without explicit consumer consent. These deceptive tactics, collectively referred to as “basket-sneaking,” are aimed at manipulating user decisions and behavior.

The move by the Indian government aligns with global efforts to regulate online platforms and protect consumers from deceptive practices. By banning dark patterns, the government aims to foster a fair and transparent e-commerce environment, safeguarding the interests of consumers and promoting ethical conduct in the digital marketplace.

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