deceptive designs US lawmakers

The U.S. must outlaw deceptive designs

Digital products, services, and platforms are key to the daily lives of millions of people, yet the way they’re designed can have immeasurable impact on people’s autonomy and control. Every day, manipulative design tactics  — “deceptive designs”  — influence decisions, coerce the sharing of private data, and push people into spending more money than intended. This violates human rights, and compromises individual freedoms and privacy.

By employing deceptive design techniques to boost profits, companies are targeting, exploiting, and molding the decisions of people online everyday. When human rights are being thrown to the gutter, ‘ethical design’ is far from enough to tackle the problem. We as design advocates are calling on lawmakers to step in. It is high time the regulators, tech sector, and creative industries work together to build systematic safeguards against the employment of design manipulations. Sage Cheng, Head of Design and Creative Production at Access Now

There is an urgent need to address this issue, which is why Access Now is building on its responsible user guide for designers and proactively providing principles for lawmakers seeking to regulate deceptive interface designs in the United States. To combat deceptive interface designs, lawmakers should include: clearly defining harmful interface design practices; enforcing accessibility standards; mandating opt-in consent; requiring data minimization; and more.

When people feel deceived by these manipulative patterns, it can spark shame, add struggle, and generate frustration. No business has the right to negatively impact our online experiences like that. U.S. lawmakers must step in — it’s time to outlaw deceptive designs that prey on our vulnerabilities and undermine our autonomy. By outlawing deceptive design, the U.S. would send a clear message that technology should serve us, not exploit us. Willmary Escoto, U.S. Policy Analyst at Access Now

Policymakers must prioritize proposals that safeguard individual autonomy and protect people’s data instead of allowing it to be exploited.