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A Summary of Department of Consumer Affairs’ Stakeholder Consultation on Dark Patterns

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, dark patterns also impede a customer’s right to be well-informed

Department of Consumer Affairs (DoCA) and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) hosted a consultation session on dark patterns on June 13. The session was attended by various stakeholders, including Flipkart, Zomato, Amazon, Meta, Google, and MakeMyTrip, to name a few. The consultation ended with the various stakeholders agreeing to create a self-regulatory framework to address the challenges posed by dark patterns.  Based on information received from multiple sources, MediaNama found that the session discussed the types of dark patterns, how they can be identified, their impact on customers, and the steps required to deal with them. We have reached out to the Ministry for confirmation on some of this information but are yet to receive a response.  What are dark patterns: A dark pattern is an attempt by a user interface to trick users into making choices that are detrimental to their interests, such as buying a more expensive product or paying more than what was initially disclosed, sharing data, or making choices based on false or paid-for reviews.  Why it matters: According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, dark patterns also impede a customer’s right to be well-informed and constitute unfair practices that are prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act 2019. They force customers to be overly vigilant of the advertising content they consume and of their general experience when browsing an e-commerce site. And in doing so, they hamper consumer loyalty and brand image in the long run. Given all the problems caused by dark patterns, such consultation is a necessary…

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