The Nordic consumer authorities agreed that digital manipulative techniques such as dark patterns and comprehensive tracking and profiling of consumers resulting in behavioural advertising are major obstacles to well-functioning consumer markets. The Nordic consumer authorities have therefore committed to step up their game for true digital fairness and respect of consumer choice.
Consumer autonomy at risk
It has become more difficult for consumers to make free, independent, and well-founded decisions without businesses interfering by using manipulative techniques. The combination of data on consumers’ interests and behaviour, the use of psychological mechanisms and clever algorithms are becoming powerful tools to drive consumers into decisions they did not necessarily intend to take.
Consumers’ vulnerabilities could be exploited when businesses are digging deep into our private lives to trigger our purchasing behaviour. Do we want a market where consumers who have expressed an interest in gambling on their social media accounts immediately are targeted with offers on consumer credits? The answer is of course no.
Nordic actions to combat manipulative techniques
The Nordic consumer authorities have, therefore, agreed to boost the Nordic task force for digital and data driven business practices. The task force will continue its work on exchanging best practices but will also take joint actions to combat digital and data driven practices having a powerful impact on consumer’s choices and decisions. Furthermore, the Nordic consumer authorities will, through joint capacity building exercises, continue to raise the bar and get a better understanding of how these practices affect consumers. This is an important next step for the Nordic consumer authorities in their work towards true digital fairness at consumer markets.
«Now is the time to act against the imbalance between consumers and businesses on digital markets. An excellent way forward is to make use of our Nordic cooperation and forces to tackle these powerful practices which are limiting consumer’s free choice», says Trond Rønningen, Director of the Norwegian Consumer Authority.