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Tech Group Calls India’s Proposed Guidelines Against Dark Patterns ‘Regulatory Overlap’

 |  October 9, 2023

By: Jagmeet Singh (TechCrunch)

A group of major U.S. tech companies has expressed its opposition to the Indian government’s proposed stance against dark patterns, deceptive tactics used to mislead online users. They argue that this move would detrimentally impact the government’s promise of facilitating an “ease of doing business” environment and introduce regulatory redundancy with existing laws.

In New Delhi, draft guidelines (PDF) were unveiled last month to regulate and prevent the use of dark patterns. These guidelines were open for public consultation for a 30-day period until Thursday, October 5, inviting feedback on the suggested rules aimed at curbing deceptive practices by online companies through unethical designs or patterns in their digital interfaces.

The Asia Internet Coalition, a representative body for tech behemoths such as Apple, Google, Meta, Amazon, and X (formerly Twitter), has conveyed that the proposed rules could potentially impede the growth of India’s digital economy. They have urged the Indian government to prioritize the current self-regulatory framework as the primary means to curtail the use of dark patterns. The industry group further highlighted that online platforms are already subject to regulation in the country under various existing laws.

In a comprehensive note addressed to the consumer affairs department that released the draft guidelines, the group emphasized, “Any attempt to introduce a separate regulatory framework would cause unnecessary regulatory overlap. This overlap will result in divergence across applicable legal frameworks leading to uncertainty in terms of compliance requirements.” A copy of this note was made public on the group’s website…