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Europe acts against ‘dark patterns’: what are they and are they illegal?

Europe acts against ‘dark patterns’: what are they and are they illegal?

“A hidden online trap,” is how the Belgian government describes so-called ‘dark patterns’: subtle techniques to influence consumers. But is it seduction or deception? And is it legally permitted?

Nearly all subscription services

Three-quarters of the websites that offer subscriptions, from streaming to meal boxes, subtly influence consumers, concludes the Belgian government in the context of an international study. Twenty-seven consumer and privacy authorities investigated 642 websites worldwide.

Over 75% of the websites use at least one ‘dark pattern’. In 66.8% of cases, two or more were found. In Belgium, at least one dark pattern was found in all 13 companies, and in 69%, even two or more.

What dark patterns?

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