Bringing Dark Patterns to Light: An FTC Workshop
The Federal trade Commission will explore the ways in which user interfaces can have the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of obscuring, subverting, or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making, or choice. For example, some sites sneak extra items into a consumer’s online shopping cart, or require users to navigate a maze of screens and confusing questions to avoid being charged for unwanted products or services.
The FTC workshop will bring together researchers, legal experts, consumer advocates, and industry professionals to examine what dark patterns are and how they affect consumers and the marketplace. Some of the topics the workshop will examine include:
- how dark patterns differ from sales tactics employed by brick-and-mortar stores;
- how they affect consumer behavior, including potential harms;
- whether some groups of consumers are unfairly targeted or are especially vulnerable;
- what laws, rules, and norms regulate the use of dark patterns; and
- whether additional rules, standards, or enforcement efforts are needed to protect consumers.
The workshop will be held virtually and webcast on the FTC’s website