Interdisciplinary Research Group in Socio-technical Cybersecurity
Dark by design: regulating manipulation in online environments
Online services are scrupulously designed to offer the best experience to their users, accommodate their needs and direct their actions towards desirable outcomes. Yet, online services can also use manipulative design strategies to circumvent the tenets of transparency, fairness, and data protection by design. Such strategies are known as “dark patterns”. They can restrict the number of available choices to trick users into accepting privacy-invasive features or make it overly difficult to access, transfer or erase personal data, thus hindering data subjects from exercising their rights. Dark patterns create an unequal playing field, where some companies illegitimately gather massive amounts of personal data. This panel will discuss possible interventions, including regulatory decisions interpreting data protection principles, guidelines on best design practices, awareness-raising initiatives, and empirical studies demonstrating the influence of manipulative designs.
• How pervasive are manipulative designs in online services and what is their impact on users?
• Which tools, skills, and resources are needed to support the enforcement of rules that regulate manipulative designs ?
• Which incentives might encourage businesses to prefer fair designs over dark patterns?
• How might we design interventions that enhance people’s ability to protect themselves from online manipulation?
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