Fair Design in E-Commerce, materials of the ACM-seminar
To celebrate its 10 year anniversary and to highlight its updated Guidelines on the Protection of Online Consumers, the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) organised a seminar on Fair Design in E-commerce on 5 April 2023. The hybrid event was attended by over 200 businesses, lawyers, consultants, policy makers, academics, enforcers and industry representatives from across the world.
The event drew attention to the consumer issues that arise as a result of the deployment of unfair and misleading online influencing techniques (also referred to as dark patterns) in e-commerce. It also offered an opportunity to discuss a way forward towards fair design for consumers in digital commercial spaces, including the various stakeholders.
The seminar: interview, conversation and workshop
After the opening address by ACM’s Member of the Board Cateautje Hijmans van den Bergh, Dr Colin Gray (Associate Professor at Purdue University, US) elaborated on the harmful nature of dark patterns and the academic research that is currently being conducted to map dark patterns in a comprehensive way.
In the following panel, Egelyn Braun (Team leader at DGJUST, European Commission) provided an overview of legislative initiatives by the European Commission that will address unfair digital design. She urged businesses to anticipate the upcoming legislation. Her update was followed by a conversation between representatives from the Dutch Consumer Association (de Consumentenbond), Olof King and from the Dutch Business Association for Online Retailers (Thuiswinkel.org), Vincent Romviel, outlining the different interests and perspectives on the matter. Both seemed to agree on the principle that digital design should not harm consumers.
The final part of the seminar existed of a workshop by Ethical Design Consultant Trine Falbe on how to, as a business, prevent the occurrence of dark patterns on their e-commerce channels. She offered some practical tools that could form the basis for a conversation within the business on the ethics of marketing techniques. She also provided several reasons why businesses benefit long-term from making design fair to consumers.
During his closing remarks, the ACM’s Director of Consumer Protection, Edwin van Houten, stressed the importance of moving from ethical talk to ethical action. He also emphasised how the shift towards fair design in e-commerce requires a collective societal effort, with a primary responsibility on the business community.
Materials are available
The event was recorded on video and is now available to watch. In addition, you will also find the program of the seminar, the presentations used by our speakers as well as the tools from the workshop.