California Bans ‘Dark Patterns’ That Trick Users Into Giving Away Their Personal Data

The Verge writes: If you’ve ever struggled through a maze of online customer service to cancel a subscription or delete an account, you’ve likely encountered “dark patterns” — user interfaces that are designed to trick and frustrate users. The concept was coined in 2010 but is slowly being addressed in U.S. legislation, with California this week announcing that it is banning the use of dark patterns that stop users from opting out of the sale of their personal data.

The updated regulation strengthens enforcement of the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), one of the toughest consumer privacy laws in the US. The CCPA gives Californians the right “to say no to the sale of personal information,” but the state government is evidently worried that these options will be buried under byzantine menus. By banning dark patterns, California will “ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights,” said the state’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra in a press statement.

The newly-approved regulation does not ban all uses of dark patterns, only those that have “the substantial effect of subverting or impairing a consumer’s choice to opt-out” of schemes where their personal data is being sold…

Businesses found not to be in compliance with the CCPA are sent a “notice to cure,” giving them a 30-day window to amend their services.