Author: David Lazarus
Even if you’ve never heard the phrase “dark patterns,” you’re almost certainly familiar with them. They’re the sneaky ways online companies trick you into agreeing to stuff you’d normally never assent to.
Classic example: You encounter a prompt asking if you want to sign up for some program or service, and the box is already checked. If you don’t uncheck it — that is, if you do nothing — you’re enrolled.
A bipartisan bill has been introduced in Congress that would prohibit websites and online platforms (hi, Facebook!) from employing such deliberately deceptive tactics, and would empower the Federal Trade Commission to crack down on sites that keep trying to fool people.
The Deceptive Experiences to Online User Reduction Act (a.k.a. the DETOUR Act) is the brainchild of Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). They’re hoping the legislation will be included as part of sweeping privacy regulations now under consideration in the Senate Commerce Committee.
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