On February 24, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission announced that it will hold a workshop on digital dark patterns on April 29, 2021. The workshop will aim to understand the ways in which user interfaces can have the effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of obscuring, subverting or impairing consumer autonomy, decision-making or choice.

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The workshop will explore a number of issues related to digital dark patterns, including:

  • how dark patterns differ from sales tactics employed by brick-and-mortar stores;
  • how they affect consumer behavior, including potential harms;
  • whether some groups of consumers are unfairly targeted or are especially vulnerable;
  • what laws, rules and norms regulate the use of dark patterns; and
  • whether additional rules, standards or enforcement efforts are needed to protect consumers.

The FTC also announced that it is seeking research, recommendations for discussion topics and requests for panelists in advance of the workshop. Relevant information should be emailed to darkpatterns@ftc.gov by March 15, 2021.

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