Feel tricked by app design? Government to act against deceptive ‘dark patterns’

BENGALURU: Did a shopping site sneak an item like a donation into your online shopping basket? Online platforms are using

deceptive design patterns

using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions to mislead users, thereby violating

consumer rights

The ministry of consumer affairs has issued a discussion paper suggesting new guidelines that check the proliferation of what are called dark patterns – to trick customers into doing something they originally did not intend to, or coercing them into certain actions.
Kailash Nadh, CTO of India’s largest stock broker


, said dark patterns, or predatory practices that border on exploitation, have been a bane of consumer technology and services. “I am elated to see a human-centric legal framework emerge that recognises this menace. After net neutrality, this is perhaps the first technology policy that I fully and wholeheartedly agree with,” he said.


A Zomato spokesperson said curbing patterns that are deceptive or misleading to consumers might help in shaping a safe and trusted online environment.
Dark patterns include falsely stating or implying a sense of urgency or scarcity to mislead a user into making an immediate purchase, such as when an online purchase site falsely shows that very few items of a product or seats on a plane are left.
Basket sneaking includes adding additional items such as products, services, and 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 products/services chosen by the user (see graphic).

Regulators in the EU, US and UK have acted on such unfair practices.

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