Big Tech’s ‘dark patterns’ could be outlawed under new Senate bill

On Tuesday, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) introduced a bill that would prohibit large Internet platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google from using deceptive design tricks as methods to cheat the users.

The DETOUR Act (Reduction of deceptive experiences to online users), if approved, would prohibit platforms from designing, modifying or manipulating a user interface in a way that prevents users from making informed decisions before giving their consent and Give companies access to their personal data. The bill would only affect the platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users.

"For years, social media platforms have relied on all sorts of tricks and tools to convince users to submit their personal data without really understanding what they are consenting to," said Warner. "Our goal is simple: to instill a bit of transparency in what is still a very opaque market and to ensure that consumers can make more informed decisions about how and when to share their personal information."

According to the draft text of the Federal Trade Commission would apply these proposed rules together with an external agency similar to a self-regulatory organization that would register with the agency.

"Any privacy policy that involves consent is weakened by the presence of obscure patterns." Fischer said in a statement. "These manipulative user interfaces intentionally limit understanding and undermine consumer choice."

The bill has the potential to drastically affect the way A / B platforms test, essentially outlawing the practice unless it is routinely disclosed to users. The text of the bill would make it illegal to "subdivide or segment consumers of online services into groups for purposes of experiments or behavioral or psychological studies, except with the informed consent of each user involved."

Last year, shortly after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress, Warner circulated a memo with a handful of different ideas that lawmakers could use to regulate major technology platforms. The DETOUR Act is one of the many that are expected to come out of Warner's note.

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