Amazon faces lawsuits in the US over “dark patterns”

Amazon faces lawsuits in the US over dark patterns

Amazon is facing two new lawsuits in the US. One lawsuit, filed by Arizona’s Attorney General Kris Mayes, accuses the e-commerce giant of deceptive business practices, according to The Verge.

The lawsuit alleges that Amazon violated the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by using design tricks, known as “dark patterns,” to prevent users from canceling their Amazon Prime subscriptions.

The US-based company is also facing a similar lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), filed in June 2023.

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What are “dark patterns”

These “dark patterns” on e-commerce websites are designed to deceive customers or manipulate their choices. Last year, India banned these practices and imposed penalties on e-tailers using them under the Consumer Protection Act.

A gazette notification from the government in December 2023 defined dark patterns as deceptive practices that use UI elements or a user’s past interactions to mislead or trick users into actions they didn’t intend to take. These tactics allow e-commerce platforms to undermine or weaken consumer choice and decision-making.

To protect consumer interests, the government banned the use of “dark patterns” on e-commerce platforms under guidelines issued by the Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA).

What Amazon has to say about the new lawsuit

According to a report by The Verge, Amazon spokesperson Tim Doyle stated that the company was “surprised and disappointed by these cases.”

Doyle added that the Arizona AG filed the lawsuit without reviewing “a single document from Amazon,” leading to a fundamental misunderstanding and mischaracterization of how Amazon’s business operates.

Meanwhile, the other lawsuit against Amazon accuses the company of violating Arizona’s Uniform State Antitrust Act by unfairly maintaining its monopoly status.

This regulatory lawsuit claims that Amazon enforced agreements with third-party sellers, preventing them from offering lower prices on other platforms compared to Amazon.

The antitrust suit also leveraged the state’s Consumer Fraud Act to address Amazon’s Buy Box algorithm. This algorithm dictates which product within a category receives prime placement, including a “Buy Now” button.

These lawsuits against Amazon signify a growing scrutiny of e-commerce practices and the importance of transparent user experiences. As legal frameworks evolve to protect consumers, businesses must adapt to ensure they are not only compliant with regulations but also maintain the trust and loyalty of their customers.