Draft Guidelines on Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns

Context: Central Consumer Protection Authority under the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution has Draft Guidelines on Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns.

Draft Guidelines on Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns

  • These guidelines have been issued under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 by the Central Consumer Protection Authority for prevention and regulation of dark patterns.
  • These guidelines will apply to all platforms offering goods and services in India, advertisers and sellers.
  • The guidelines bars any person or platform to engage in any dark patterns.
  • These guidelines have defined Dark Patterns and specified what constitutes dark patterns.


Any practice or deceptive design patterns using UI/UX (user interface/user experience) interactions on any platform which is designed to mislead or trick users to do something they originally did not intend or want to do by subverting or impairing the consumer autonomy, decision making or choice which amounts to misleading advertisement or unfair trade practice or violation of consumer rights.

Specified dark patterns

  • False Urgency: Falsely stating or implying the sense of urgency or scarcity so as to mislead a user into making an immediate purchase or take an immediate action, which may lead to a purchase.
  • Basket sneaking: Inclusion of additional items such as products, services, payments to charity/donation at the time of checkout from a platform, without the consent of the user, such as that the total amount payable by the user is more than the amount payable for the product/service chosen by the user.
  • Confirm shaming: Using a phrase, video, audio or any other means to create a sense of fear or shame or ridicule or guilt in the mind of the user to nudge the user to act in a certain way
  • Forced action: Forcing a user into taking an action that would require the user to buy any additional good(s) or subscribe or sign up for an unrelated service, to buy or subscribe to the product/service originally intended by the user.
  • Subscription trap: It is the process of:
    • Making cancellation of a paid subscription impossible or a complex and lengthy process.
    • Hiding cancellation option for a subscription.
    • Forcing a user to provide payment details and/or authorisation for auto debits for availing a free subscription.
    • Making instructions related to cancellation of subscription ambiguous, latent, confusing and cumbersome.
  • Interface interference: A design element that manipulates the user interface in ways that highlights certain specific information, obscures other relevant information relative to information being highlighted to misdirect a user from taking an action desired by her.
  • Bait and switch: Practice of advertising a particular outcome based on the user’s action but deceptively serving an alternative outcome.
  • Drip pricing: It is a practice whereby:
    • Elements of prices are not revealed upfront or are revealed surreptitiously within the user experience.
    • Revealing price post-confirmation of purchase i.e., charging an amount higher than the amount disclosed at the time of checkout.
    • A product or service is advertised as free without appropriate disclosure of fact that
  • Disguised advertisement: Practice of posing, masking advertisements as other types of content such as user generated content or new articles or false advertisements.
  • Nagging: A dark pattern due to which users face an overload of requests, information, options or interruptions which is unrelated to the intended purchase of goods or services, which disrupts the intended transaction.

About Central Consumer Protection Authority

  • Central Consumer Protection Authority is an authority provided by the Consumer Protection Act, 2019 which was to be notified by the Central Government.
  • Main aims of CCPA is to regulate unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements which are prejudicial to the interests of public and consumers and to promote, protect and enforce the rights of consumers as a class.
  • CCPA consists of a Chief Commissioners and Commissioners who are appointed by Central Government.
  • CCPA has an investigation wing headed by Director General for conducting inquiry or investigation under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • District Collector may, on a complaint or a reference made to him by CCPA or Commissioner of a regional office, inquire into or investigate complaints regarding violation of rights of consumers as a class, violation of consumer rights, unfair trade practices and false or misleading advertisements, within his jurisdiction and submit his report to CCPA or Commissioner of a regional office.

Functions of Central Consumer Protection Authority are:

  • Protect, promote and enforce rights of consumers as a class and prevent violation of consumer rights under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Prevent unfair trade practices and ensure that no person engages himself in unfair trade practices.
  • Ensure that no false or misleading advertisement is made of any goods or services which contravenes the provisions of Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Ensure that no person takes part in publication of any advertisement which is false or misleading.
  • Inquire or investigate into violations of consumer rights or unfair trade practices, either suo moto or on a complaint or on directions of central government.
  • File complaints before District Commission, State or National Commission as the case may be under the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.
  • Intervene in any proceedings before district, State or National Commission in respect of any allegation of violation of consumer rights of unfair trade practice.
  • Review matters relating to inhibition of enjoyment of consumer rights and recommend remedial measures for their effective implementation.
  • Recommend adoption of international covenants and best international practices on consumer rights to ensure effective enforcement of consumer rights.
  • Undertake and promote research in the field of consumer rights.
  • Spread and promote awareness on consumer rights.
  • Encourage NGOs and other institutions working in the field of consumer rights to cooperate and work with consumer protection agencies.
  • Mandate the use of unique and universal goods identifiers in such goods to prevent unfair trade practices and to protect consumers’ interest.
  • Issues safety notices to alert consumers against dangerous or hazardous or unsafe goods or services.
  • Advise Ministries and Departments of Central and State Governments on consumer welfare measures.
  • Issue necessary guidelines to prevent unfair trade practices and protect consumers’ interest.

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