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Consumer Affairs Secy cautions e-commerce on ‘unfair’ dark patterns

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The Department of Consumer Affairs, which notified guidelines to prevent dark patterns in November 2023, has specified 13 such designs

New Delhi: Consumer Affairs Secretary Nidhi Khare on Tuesday warned e-commerce companies against deploying deceptive user interface designs known as “dark patterns”, stating that the practice violates consumer rights and amounts to unfair trade.

Addressing a stakeholders session, Khare highlighted various ways for online platforms to refrain from using such designs that mislead consumers into making unintended purchases or subscriptions, an official statement said.

She suggested improvements like relying on consumer feedback, monitoring user satisfaction and repeat customers, using app features to identify non-compliant patterns, and self-auditing specified dark patterns, according to an official statement.

The Department of Consumer Affairs, which notified guidelines to prevent dark patterns in November 2023, has specified 13 such designs, including false urgency alerts, subscription traps, bait-and-switch pricing and nagging tactics.

Representatives from the Indian Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University, the All India Gaming Federation as well as firms like Zomato, EaseMyTrip, Urban Company, Uber and CRED attended the session.

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