The Government of India will launch the world’s first software to detect dark patterns on e-Commerce platforms, to provide protection to consumers from all types of unfair trade practices.
The Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, in collaboration with Indian Institute of Technology-Banaras Hindu University, on October 26, launched a four-stage hackathon, Dark Patterns Buster, to build an open-source software that will be available as a freely downloadable browser extension and a mobile app, to alert users to the presence of dark patterns on websites.
The ministry has identified over 10 such dark patterns commonly used by websites that constitute “malpractices” and “unfair trade practices in contravention of section 2(47) of the Consumer Protection Act 2019.”
Some identified patterns that violate the consumer protection law include trick questions, which are vaguely worded, recurrent surreptitious software-as-a-service payments, rogue malware, subscription traps, and interface interference, or making cancellation of a subscription difficult for the user.
Currently, there are no tools available in India or abroad to detect dark patterns on online platforms. The main aim of the initiative is to alert people and prevent them from falling for the trap.