Deceptive Patterns Online (DECEPTICON) 2021-24


Funding IS/14717072 supported by

FNR Luxembourg logo

An interdisciplinary research project on deceptive design patterns online: 2021-2024

Dark patterns are manipulative designs aimed at influencing the decisions users take online about their purchases, use of time and disclosure of personal data. Websites and applications ranging from social media to video games or e-commerce extensively employ dark patterns. They expose users to privacy harms and impact collective welfare with repercussions on competition and consumer trust.

Under the GDPR, dark patterns are illegal when they circumvent the principles of transparency and fairness, and infringe the requirements of consent and data protection by design. They can also be considered unethical because they undermine the self-determination of users. Dark patterns are embedded both in user-facing front-end and in back-end technologies. This is why solutions call for a socio-technical approach.

Decepticon pursues 4 goals:

  • Empirically studying DP effects on user behaviour
  • Developing data science techniques / formal methods to automatically recognize DP
  • Creating a platform to share know-how about DP
  • Developing procedures/tools to support the assessment of the presence of DP

Who benefits from this research?

icon business

Businesses that need to self-assess the compliance of their services and practitioners (designers, developers, etc.) who value the embedding of legal-ethical principles into their products.

icon law

Regulators, lawyers and other legal experts who need to thoroughly inspect the data practices of many companies or, conversely, advise their clients about best practices in system and interface design.

icon research

Researchers who study manipulation and deception under various angles (e.g., data science, law, HCI/UX, cybersecurity).

icon user

End-users who need a better protection of their rights and interests.

Project news

The Decepticon team

SnT, University of Luxembourg
Prof. Gabriele Lenzini
Prof. Gabriele Lenzini, IRISC
Dr. Arianna Rossi
Dr. Arianna Rossi, IRISC
Dr Marietjie Botes
Dr Marietjie Botes,  IRISC
COSA, University of Luxembourg
Prof. Vincent Koenig
Prof. Vincent Koenig, HCI team
Dr. Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy
Dr. Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, HCI team
Dr. Anastasia Sergeva
Dr. Anastasia Sergeva, HCI team
Lorena Sanchez Chamorro
Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, HCI team
Luxembourg Institute of Science & Technology
Philippe Valoggia
Philippe Valoggia, LIST


Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Vincent Koenig”Justice in interaction design: preventing manipulation in interfaces.” Workshop “Dreaming Disability Justice in HCI”, April 30–May 05, 2022, New Orleans (Virtual Workshop).

Doan Xengie Cheng, Selzer Annika, Rossi Arianna, Botes Wilhelmina Maria, Lenzini Gabriele”Conciseness, interest, and unexpectedness: User attitudes towards infographic and comic consent mediums.” COnSeNT 2022 ~ 2nd International Workshop on Consent Management in Online Services, Networks and Things co-located with 31st WEB Conference.

Arianna Rossi, Human Soheil, Degeling Martin, Santos Christiana, Pandit Harshvardhan, Morel, Botes Wilhelmina Maria, Jesus Vitor, Kamara Irene “Data Protection and Consenting Communication Mechanisms: Current Proposals and Challenges.” 2022 International Workshop on Privacy Engineering – IWPE’22, Co-located with 7th IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy, 6 June 2022, Genoa, Italy.

Cristiana Santos, Arianna Rossi, Lorena Sanchez Chamorro, Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, and Ruba Abu-Salma. “Cookie Banners, What’s the Purpose? Analyzing Cookie Banner Text Through a Legal Lens.” In Proceedings of the 20th Workshop on Workshop on Privacy in the Electronic Society, pp. 187-194. 2021.

Maria Wilhelmina Botes and Arianna Rossi. 2021 “Visualisation Techniques for Consent: Finding Common Ground in Comic Art with Indigenous Populations.” In 2021 IEEE European Symposium on Security and Privacy Workshops (EuroS&PW), pp. 292-297. IEEE.

Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy, Arianna Rossi, Salvador Rivas, Sophie Doublet, Vincent Koenig, and Gabriele Lenzini. 2021. “I am Definitely Manipulated, Even When I am Aware of it. It’s Ridiculous!” – Dark Patterns from the End-User Perspective. In ACM DIS Conference on Designing Interactive Systems, June 28– July 2, 2021, Virtual event, USA.ACM, New York, NY, USA, 38 pages.

Arianna Rossi and Kerstin Bongard-Blanchy. 2021. All in one Stroke? Intervention Spaces for Dark Patterns. Position Paper at the Workshop “What Can CHI Do About Dark Patterns?” at the CHI Conference on HumanFactors in Computing Systems (CHI’21), May 8–13, 2021, Online Virtual Conference (originally Yokohama, Japan).5 pages.

Maria Wilhelmina Botes and Arianna Rossi. 2021 “Back to the Future with Icons and Images: “Low-Tech” to Communicate and Protect Privacy and Data.” R. Ducato and A. Strowel (Eds.), Legal Design Perspectives. Theoretical and Practical Insights from the Field, Ledi publishing

Get in touch

SnT – Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust
Maison du Nombre, 6, avenue de la Fonte, L-4364 Esch-sur-Alzette