Blog Details

  • 10/31/2023


Why in news?

Recently, Online malpractices by airlines, travel portals are “cybercrime”, says Consumer Affairs Secretary; Ministry to examine complaints about paid airline seats, denied boarding, delays in refunds

What are dark patterns?

  • A dark pattern refers to a design or user interface technique that is intentionally crafted to manipulate or deceive users into making certain choices or taking specific actions that may not be in their best interest.
  • It is a deceptive practice employed to influence user behaviour in a way that benefits the company implementing it.
  • For example, a common dark pattern is the “sneak into basket” technique used on e-commerce websites. When a user adds an item to their shopping cart, a dark pattern may be employed by automatically adding additional items to the cart without the user’s explicit consent or clear notification.
  • This can mislead the user into purchasing more items than they intended, potentially increasing the company’s sales but compromising the user’s autonomy and decision-making.
  • Similarly, many of us have encountered pop-up requests for our personal information, where we have found it difficult to locate the ‘reject’ link.
  • It is challenging for customers to decline the acquisition of their personal data if they want to continue on a website because the choice to depart or reject is so subtly positioned.
  • By using such dark patterns, digital platforms infringe on the consumer’s right to full transparency of the services they use and control over their browsing experience.

What are the different types?

  • Businesses are using various techniques and deceptive patterns to downgrade the user experience to their own advantage.
  • Some of the common practices are creating a sense of urgency or scarcity while online shopping;
  • Confirm shaming wherein a consumer is criticised for not conforming to a particular belief;
  • The forced action of signing up for a service to access content;
  • Advertising one product or service but delivering another, often of lower quality, known as the bait and switch technique;
  • Hidden costs where the bill is revised or costs are added when the consumer is almost certain to purchase the product;
  • Disguised advertisements of a particular product by way of depicting it as news and many more.
  • Such deceptive patterns that manipulate consumer choice and impede their right to be well-informed constitute unfair practices that are prohibited under the Consumer Protection Act 2019.