The Federal Trade Commission recently announced that it has entered into a settlement with Bridge It, Inc. (“Brigit”), the operator of a personal finance mobile application, to resolve the FTC’s allegations that Brigit engaged in unfair and deceptive acts or practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC Act and engaged in conduct that violated the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act (“ROSCA”). … Continue Reading

The CFPB  recently issued a policy statement in which it provided a framework for determining what constitutes abusive conduct under the CFPA.  After reviewing the definition of abusive in the CFPA and the historical background of the adoption of an abusive standard in the CFPA, we examine how the policy statement addresses each element of the abusive standard and share our observations as to the policy statement’s implications. … Continue Reading

Our special guest is Andrew Nigrinis, PhD, who formerly served as Enforcement Economist for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  We first discuss what is meant by “dark patterns” and the types of digital practices identified by the CFPB and Federal Trade Commission as “dark patterns.”  We then look at the CFPB ‘s position regarding the use of “dark patterns” as an unfair, deceptive, or abusive act or practice under the Consumer Financial Protection Act, the FTC’s position regarding the use of “dark patterns” as anticompetitive and/or a violation of the FTC Act prohibition of unfair or deceptive acts or practices, and the relationship between “dark patterns” and behavioral economics. … Continue Reading

After discussing what are “dark patterns” and the most common forms they can take, we consider whether and how “dark patterns” used to influence consumers’ online behavior differ from traditional scams directed at consumers involving the use of deception.  We then discuss the federal and state statutes and common law claims currently being used to challenge the use of “dark patterns” as well as current legislative action to more directly target “dark patterns” and the challenges lawmakers face in crafting new legislation. … Continue Reading

Last week, the FTC filed a civil case against Amazon alleging that the company used “dark patterns” to enroll people in its Prime program.  The case continues a pattern initiated by FTC Chair Lina Khan of challenging web-based marketing tactics of consumer-facing businesses as deceptive and anticompetitive on the grounds that they impede consumer choice and can be used by dominant firms as a tactic to exclude competitors. … Continue Reading

The CFPB and FTC have targeted the use of “dark patterns” on websites to influence consumer behavior.  We first discuss what regulators consider to be dark patterns and why they are a focus of  regulatory concern and look at examples.  We then discuss the empirical issues and behavioral theories a company should expect regulators to raise if it is the target of a dark patterns investigation or enforcement action, what proactive steps a company can take to reduce the risk of a dark patterns challenge and the role of A/B testing, the practices most likely to be the focus of future dark pattern challenges by regulators, and principles to consider when designing online interactions with consumers so as to avoid potential dark patterns.… Continue Reading