Skip to content Skip to footer

ALTI’s Dr Mark Leiser Gives “Impulse Speech” on Dark Patterns

ALTI’s Dr Mark Leiser gives “Impulse Speech” on Dark Patterns at the 10th Joint ESA Consumer Protection Day at Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain

The Museo de Prado in Madrid served as the illustrious backdrop for the 10th Consumer Protection Day, hosted jointly by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA), and the European Banking Authority. Esteemed speakers, delegates, and influencers from all corners of Europe converged to deliberate upon some of the most pressing concerns related to consumer protection.

Amidst the day’s lineup, Dr Mark Leiser of the Amsterdam Law and Technology Institute took the stage, following an enlightening address by Nadia Calviño, First Deputy Prime Minister of Spain and Minister for Economy and Digitalization. Ms. Calviño set the tone with her perspective on the evolving digital economy, paving the way for Dr Leiser’s impulse speech on #DarkPatterns. Their sequential presentations underscored the symbiotic relationship between economic policies and the need for consumer protection from complex digital technologies. Dr Leiser’s deep insights into law and technology, coming on the heels of Calviño’s strategic overview, provided attendees with a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and solutions in the face of deceptive digital designs.

The impulse speech drove home the importance of recognizing manipulative and deceptive designs that are increasingly becoming part and parcel of our digital experiences. At a time when consumer trust is paramount, and when the digital revolution is redefining how businesses and customers interact, it’s essential to shine a light on practices that can erode this trust. While many often associate dark patterns with tech giants or e-commerce platforms, a key takeaway from today’s talk was the revelation that these tactics aren’t exclusive to #BigTech. Alarmingly, their shadow is also creeping into the financial sector.

Banks, insurance companies, and other financial service providers are no strangers to these designs, particularly when it comes to cross-selling products to consumers. Deceptive designs are now a tool in the arsenal for those seeking to profit from the unsuspecting consumer.

Following the speech was a panel discussion, which further expanded on the theme of the Impulse speech. The emphasis was on the role of consumers during cross-selling and deferred sales models. The panelists, including Dr Leiser, stressed the challenges in ensuring consumer protection in the digital environment and rise of AI. The law and its enforcers are in a race against time, attempting to keep up with the rapid pace of these deceptive innovations.

However, enforcement alone isn’t the panacea. There’s a clarion call for consumers to be more informed, to recognize when they’re being led astray, and to understand their rights under the law. As the Impulse Speech rightly pointed out, consumers are frustrated and weary of #deceptivedesign. They deserve transparency, clarity, and the right to make informed decisions without being unwittingly manipulated. Dr Leiser remarked:

“How about businesses stop nudging consumers into unwanted and confusing bundles of products and, in turn, enhance their business’s reputation and boost consumer confidence and trust in the marketplace?”

Today’s event underscored the importance of a collective approach to tackling the issue of dark patterns. While regulators and policymakers play their part, consumers, too, must be equipped with the knowledge and tools to safeguard their interests.

In conclusion, the 10th ESAs Consumer Protection Day was not just a commemoration but also a call to action. As digital landscapes evolve, so must the strategies to ensure that they remain transparent, fair, and conducive to consumer trust. And today’s proceedings at the Museo de Prado have certainly set the ball rolling in the right direction.

Amsterdam Law & Technology Institute
VU Faculty of Law
De Boelelaan 1077, 1081 HV Amsterdam