Even if you haven’t heard of dark patterns before, you’ll have come across them at some point. A dark pattern is a website design that confuses and tricks users into accepting something they don’t intend to, such as accepting that a company can collect and commercialize personal information. These systems are damaging at best and potentially damaging at the worst.
California is fighting back at these dark patterns by introducing a bill that bans them, according to Business Insider. According to the new law, any business using a dark pattern gets 30 days to change their website design or face civil penalties under statutes “relating to unfair competition in an action to be brought by the Attorney General.”
The term “dark patterns” comes from UX specialist Harry Brignull. The term refers to practices such as when websites make it difficult for users to unsubscribe from services when websites misdirect users and make it difficult to compare prices.
“California is at the cutting edge of online privacy protection, and this newest approval by OAL clears even more hurdles in empowering consumers to exercise their rights under the California Consumer Privacy Act,” Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a release. “These protections ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights.”
Becerra isn’t the only one looking to eliminate dark patterns. Both Democrats and Republicans are calling for stricter measures against them. This is a great move by California – and one that Washington may soon emulate as a similar bill was introduced earlier in the year.