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Senators Introduce Bill to Stop Dark Patterns & # 39; Huge Platforms Use to trick users



Washington Monument and Capitol Building in Washington, DC, March 2019.
Photo: Mark Tenally (AP)

Senators Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) have introduced legislation to ban so-called "dark patterns" tactics designed to trick users into providing access to their data, Reuters reported Tuesday.

Dark patterns, a term that was first popularized by the darkpatterns.org website, describe everything from user interface elements to technical tricks designed to entice users to take actions they would not otherwise agree, such as presenting them with purchase codes in The app or data sharing deals designed to seem like more worldly features. In the video below, UX expert Harry Brignull characterizes it as a sort of catch-all term that also includes things like a "roach motel": a design that makes it very easy for you to get into a situation but very difficult to recover out ": One such example is the maze of menus Amazon customers have to navigate through to delete their accounts.

If the concept is still a bit unclear, Dark Patterns is running a Wall of Shame that highlights some of the worst routes.

The bill, called "Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction (Act) Reduction (DETOUR) Act", does not distinguish between mobile apps and desktop browsing experiences.

According to a draft bill, legislation makes it illegal for large, public Internet services of over 100 million monthly active users to "design, modify or manipulate a user interface with the purpose or significant effect of hiding, undermining or impairing user autonomy, decision processes or choices to obtain consent or user data. "It also requires that such services not" split or segment "users into groups for" purposes of behavioral or psychological experimentation "without informed consent, and say that they cannot target people under the age of 13 for the purpose or substantial effect by cultivating compulsive use, including video auto-play functions initiated without the consent of a user. "

In addition, Reuters noted that companies had to create independent control panels for the approval of behavioral or psychological experiments, as well as creating standard professional bodies that would Act in Coordination with the Fe Deral Trade Commission:

According to the bill, social media companies will create a professional standard body to create best practices for dealing with the problem. The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates misleading advertising, will work with the group.

According to ZDNet, practices that can be targeted under the bill can suddenly interfere with tasks unless users hit consent buttons, set "agree" as the default option for privacy settings, and create enveloped procedures for users to exclude data collection or bar access "until the user accepts specific terms . "

In other words, this will radically change how a handful of massive companies whose entire business model relies on making money from user data. It is also much different than how these companies prefer any upcoming regulation to look, so there will probably be significant opposition from the major platforms.

Warner said the bill could be included in a follow-up to the Senate Commerce Committee, which is still in the drafting process (and thus remains quite away from being allowed).

"For many years, social media platforms have stood on all sorts of tricks and tools to convince users to surrender their personal data without understanding what they accept," Warner said in a joint statement. "Our goal is simple: to allow some transparency in what is still a very opaque market, and to ensure that consumers can make more informed choices about how and when to share their personal information."

"Any privacy policy involving consent is impaired by the presence of dark patterns. These manipulative user interfaces deliberately restrict understanding and undermine consumer choice. Misleading requests to simply click the" OK "button can often transfer contacts, messages, surfing activity, images or location information without even realizing it, "added Fischer. "Our biparticulate law aims to curb the use of these dishonest interfaces and increase trust on the web."

According to Reuters, in a recent interview with CNBC, Warner said: "Platform companies should now have the opportunity to put their money where their mouths are, to see if they support this legislation and other approaches."

[Reuters]


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