Dark Patterns: Tool of Manipulation


Dark Patterns– decisive techniques or deceptive designs. Which uses such UI/UX interactions that mold user preferences and trick them into doing something else that users were not intended to do initially.

Data Privacy- Infringement of personal data by individuals or co-operation either for commercial purposes or noncommercial purposes legally or illegally for which consent is given or not.

Exploitation and infringement of excessive personal data (more than is necessary) becoming a new age tool to interfere with the choices of users and force users to change their purchasing choices and influence them positively or negatively.

One of the prime tactics for gathering personal data in the name of enhancing user experience and floating targeted ads is ‘Cookies’. Every website either working on mobile phones or desktop uses cookies.

The purpose of cookies is cookies is the increase user experience by storing the preferences of users for better website revisits.

One of the dark patterns, these website cookies used is ‘Nagging’. Nagging-

Nagging is a UI/UX-based activity due to which use of the website or accessing the content of the website with multiple pop-ups, overload of requests, and observation consent which is used for tracking rather than making UI/UX easy for users to purchase goods/services from the website.

Cookies permission is one prime example as almost every website shows the cookies setting when you visit any website for the first time and a lot of time selection of cookies hinders the usage of the website.

*Source- Razer website

 For example- Here, we can see Razer being an elite technology company. As a user uses the website cookies setting pop-ups restrict the user from using the website. Users can choose which cookies they want to apply. But there are some ‘Strictly Necessary Cookies’ that can’t be turned off unless the user turns these cookies off through the browser. Which will ultimately lead to the stoppage of some parts of the website.

Here we can see the usage of ‘Interface Interference’. Interface Interference

Interface Interference seems like a flaw from the perspective of the user but originally design element which used to manipulate users in a way-

  • Highlight specific parts of the website to attract users
  • Misdirect the user from taking feasible steps to make their information

Cookies and pop-ups asking for emails are prime examples of interface interference as either this pop-up makes the site accessible without attending them or removes the exit button with a light color.

*Source- gigabyte website

 Gigabyte is an example of interface interference while browsing on their website a pop-up of cookies came on a window that only has the option of acceptance. If you don’t want to accept cookies you have to browse the website with a cookies pop-up.

Artificial Intelligence is one of the prime players in accessing users’ personal information. Here’s how-

Google’s new screen call feature to stop robocalls and prevent spam calls. Users can opt for screen calls manually.

In Screen calls Google Assistant asks callers why they’re calling (in case of automatic call screening). Google Assistant detects a spam call and declines it without alerting you. During call screening Google Assistant transcript and records the call audio.

In the case of a manual screen call user gets a real-time transcript once the user picks up the call screening and transcription stops immediately.

Influencing users’ minds by decisive tricks-

 Decisive techniques and deceptive designs are meant to influence users’ decisions that are favorable to companies. Which can be in different ways like-

  • Proctoringusers’ regular
  • Making users buy their product by targeted  3- Taking excessive users’ data which is meant to be gathered.

According to the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023 consent “given by Data principal shall be free, specific, informed, unconditional and unambiguous with a clear affirmative action, and it shall signify agreement to the processing of her data for a specified purpose and be limited to such personal data as is necessary for such specified purpose.”

Avoiding all the requirements of getting consent. Dark Patterns Manipulates Users’ Minds and gather users’ locations, emails, and various other important information. This seems unnecessary from the perspective of the user but companies use such information for greater influencing and decision manipulation. By classifying the information and running targeted ads toward users’ these companies affect users’ free will to consume their products/services.

Legal framework for dark patterns in India-

 Data Protection Act, of 2023- does not explicitly conjoin privacy breaches and dark patterns together but the aforementioned act talks about the breach and the penalties that arose due to any reason. It also provides who will be answerable to whom along with tight penalties for non-compliance. On the other hand, Central Consumer Protection Authority also released Guidelines for Prevention and Regulations of Dark Patter, 2023 which explicitly talks about different types of corrupt practices performed by companies to manipulate consumers and make them pay extra.

As the Guidelines are of evolving nature it can be expected that many more new dark patterns will come in light and strict regulation will be implemented.


As of today, there are a plethora of cases either recorded or not where goods/services platforms gather data of users without their prior consent. While defeating the whole purpose of Sec 6 of DPDP 2023 they process such data and use that processed data against their users only. We saw how Cookies and Artificial Intelligence in the name of making our digital life easy take plenty of important data without prior consent or deceptive consent.

Disclaimer: The above article is based on the personal interpretation of the related orders and laws. The readers are expected to take expert opinions before relying upon the article. For more information, please contact us

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