Skip to content
Subscriber Only

Web’s ‘Dark Patterns’ Targeted as U.S. Senators Take Aim at Tech

  • Bill would ban deceptive features on Facebook, other big sites
  • Designs ‘trick’ users into giving personal data, lawmakers say
Deb Fischer
Deb FischerPhotographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Two U.S. senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would ban "manipulative" design features and prompts that let large websites such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google or Facebook Inc. "trick consumers into handing over their personal data."

Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Deb Fischer introduced the bill on so-called "dark patterns" on Tuesday, according to a news release from Warner’s office. Such features, based on behavioral psychology, include pre-checked boxes or pop-ups in the middle of an activity -- such as an e-commerce purchase or reading a story online -- that prompt users to consent to the collection of personal data.