California Bans “Dark Patterns” That Subvert CCPA’s Opt-out Rights

March 16, 2021

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has announced updated regulations under the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that ban so-called “dark patterns” that delay or obscure the process for opting out of the sale of personal information. Specifically, the regulations prohibit companies from burdening consumers with confusing language or unnecessary steps such as forcing them to click through multiple screens or listen to reasons why they shouldn’t opt out. "These protections ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights," said Attorney General Becerra. Dark patterns "are design features used to deceive, steer, or manipulate users into behavior that is profitable for an online service, but often harmful to users or contrary to their intent." Last month, EPIC filed a complaint with the D.C. Attorney General alleging that Amazon unlawfully employs manipulative "dark patterns" in the Amazon Prime subscription cancellation process. Next month, the FTC plans a workshop on "Bringing Dark Patterns to Light."

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