Redress for Dark Patterns Privacy Harms? A Case Study on Consent Interactions

Posted: 9 Sep 2022

See all articles by Johanna Gunawan

Johanna Gunawan

Northeastern University Khoury College of Computer Sciences

Cristiana Santos

Utrecht University

Irene Kamara

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT); Free University of Brussels (LSTS)

Date Written: August 31, 2022

Abstract

Internet users are constantly subjected to incessant demands for attention in a noisy digital world. Countless inputs compete for the chance to be clicked, to be seen, and to be interacted with, and they can deploy tactics that take advantage of behavioral psychology to ‘nudge’ users into doing what they want. Some nudges are benign; others deceive, steer, or manipulate users, as the U.S. FTC Commissioner says, “into behavior that is profitable for an online service, but often harmful to [us] or contrary to [our] intent”. These tactics are dark patterns, which are manipulative and deceptive interface designs used at-scale in more than ten percent of global shopping websites and more than ninety-five percent of the most popular apps in online services.

Literature discusses several types of harms caused by dark patterns that includes harms of a material nature, such as financial harms, or anticompetitive issues, as well as harms of a non-material nature, such as privacy invasion, time loss, addiction, cognitive burdens, loss of autonomy, and emotional or psychological distress. Through a comprehensive literature review of this scholarship and case law analysis conducted by our interdisciplinary team of HCI and legal scholars, this paper investigates whether harms caused by such dark patterns could give rise to redress for individuals subject to dark pattern practices using consent interactions and the GDPR consent requirements as a case study.

Keywords: dark patterns, deceptive design, redress, damages, consent, GDPR, data protection infringement, harm, policy and law

Suggested Citation

Gunawan, Johanna and Santos, Cristiana and Kamara, Irene, Redress for Dark Patterns Privacy Harms? A Case Study on Consent Interactions (August 31, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4205999

Johanna Gunawan

Northeastern University Khoury College of Computer Sciences ( email )

220 B RP
Boston, MA 02115
United States

Cristiana Santos (Contact Author)

Utrecht University ( email )

Achter Sint Pieter 200
Utrecht
Netherlands

Irene Kamara

Tilburg University - Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) ( email )

P.O.Box 90153
Prof. Cobbenhagenlaan 221
Tilburg, 5037 AB
Netherlands

Free University of Brussels (LSTS) ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, 1050
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.vub.ac.be/LSTS/

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