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Dark Patterns from Amazon into the Light

This article was first publised on Dataethics.com


Amazon Prime’s design feature manipulates users into sticking with paid memberships, claims the Norwegian Consumer Council, and that is not okay. Therefore they have filed a legal complaint to the Consumer Protection Authority saying that Amazon puts obstacles in the way of consumers who wish to unsubscribe from its Amazon Prime service.


The Norwegian Consumer Council believes that it should be as easy to end a subscription as it was to subscribe in the first place: “Amazon should facilitate a good user experience instead of hindering customers and tricking them into continuing paid services they do not need or want”, says Director of Digital Policy at the Norwegian Consumer Council, Finn Lützow-Holm Myrstad.


Norway is a Frontrunner Norway is known to pave the way regarding online consumer rights. But this time, the Norwegians are not alone. Consumer rights groups across Europe and the United States are urging regulators to take action against Amazon over that Prime design feature, saying it manipulates users into sticking with paid memberships. 16 different consumer organizations in Europe and the United States take action against Amazon based on the report by the Norwegian Consumer Council. Each organization will ask their respective consumer authorities to investigate the use of dark patterns in their countries.


The patterns are Dark Amazon uses dark patterns or manipulative design which is – unfortunately – a common practice online according to Myrstad: “Consumers are constantly bombarded by a variety of subtle and less subtle attempts to push us into making choices that favour the companies at the cost of our own time, attention, and money”.

He and the rest of the consumer groups want it stopped. They did the report, the legal complaint and a survey of 1,000 Norwegian consumers and an analysed their experience.


Now the rest is up to the courts.

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