India’s Department of Consumer Affairs has initiated a public consultation on its Draft Guidelines for the Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns, available for feedback on their website until October 5, 2023. Developed following a series of consultations with stakeholders, including a significant meeting on June 13, 2023, and insights from a specially formed task force, the guidelines aim to curb deceptive practices on online platforms. 

The Department of Consumer Affairs in India has initiated a public consultation on its Draft Guidelines for the Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns. The guidelines, available on the department’s website, aim to address deceptive practices adopted by online platforms that go against consumer interests. The public is encouraged to provide feedback on the draft by October 5, 2023. The initiative follows detailed discussions with stakeholders including e-commerce platforms, law firms, and voluntary consumer organizations.

 

The draft guidelines were formulated after a series of consultations and meetings, with the first being held on June 13, 2023. This meeting brought together various stakeholders including the Advertising Standards Council of India and law firms to discuss the pressing issue of dark patterns online. Following this, a letter was sent out to e-commerce companies and industry associations urging them to avoid engaging in unfair trade practices that manipulate consumer choice and violate consumer rights as outlined in the Consumer Protection Act of 2019.

 

A task force was established to delve deeper into the issue, comprising representatives from industry associations, e-commerce platforms like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, among others. The task force held five meetings to gather inputs for the draft policy. The guidelines, set to be issued under section 18 (2) (l) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019, define dark patterns as deceptive UI/UX designs on platforms intended to mislead users into taking actions they did not originally intend to, thereby violating consumer rights.

 

The draft outlines various dark patterns including “false urgency,” “basket sneaking,” and “confirm shaming,” providing clear definitions and examples for each. It aims to identify and regulate practices that manipulate or alter consumer choices through deceptive techniques or manipulated user interfaces and web designs. The department emphasizes its commitment to safeguarding consumer interests and fostering a fair and transparent digital marketplace through the implementation of these guidelines. It believes that the guidelines will strengthen the industry while protecting consumer interests.

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