The UK government set out harmonize some of its laws with the required Europe Union’s set of laws around consumer protection. This has the spin-off impact of making dark patterns illegal. If you’re unfamiliar with dark patterns read this post.
Harry Brignull has a great breakdown of what this change in law means. Here’s the TL;DR for you:
- The “sneak into basket” pattern is now illegal. Full stop, end of story.
- Hidden costs are now illegal, whether that’s an undeclared subscription, extra shipping charges, or extra items. While the costs are still permissible, failing to advise the customer about them or explain what they are is not.
- Forced continuity, when imposed on the user as a form of bait-and-switch, has been banned.
This all sounds fine and dandy, but what will happen to existing companies that use these bad practices? From Brignull:
Quite simply, businesses who don’t comply face a loss of revenue. If you make a purchase, whether that’s buying goods or a service, on a non-compliant web site, you have the right to recourse through your nearest Trading Standards office, in other words, your local Council. Unlike the cookie law, which is dealt with by one UK-wide bureaucracy which has bigger fish to fry, this law is dealt with on a local level.