Technological advancements and innovations is where India is focusing on. Through Digital India, the central government is already giving a boost to digitalisation in the country. In a latest development, the Department of Consumer Affairs in collaboration with IIT (BHU), launched Dark Patterns Buster Hackathon 2023. The deliverables of the Hackathon will be to design & prototype innovative app or software based solutions such as- browser extensions, plugins, add-ons, mobile applications etc. that can detect the use, type and scale of dark patterns for e-Commerce platforms.
The objective of the initiative is to provide protection to consumers from all types of unfair trade practices. According to the information provided by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution in a PIB release, “While preparing the deliverable the participants are expected to focus on key areas like pattern detection accuracy, User-Friendly Extension, Pattern Versioning, Generative AI, Repository Management, Data Collection with Privacy Protection, Crowd sourced Pattern Identification, Cross-Browser Compatibility, and Artificial Intelligence for Detection and Performance Optimization.”
The participants will be evaluated on following few of the many criteria; Innovation, Demonstration of the solution as a turn-key solution, User Interface & User Experience, Accuracy & Reliability, Adherence to Functionalities & Features, Privacy & Compliance etc.
In line with the initiative, the department had published draft Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns on September 7, 2023 seeking public comments/feedback/suggestions. A time of 30 days (until October 5, 2023) was given for submitting the suggestions.
According to a release by PIB, the department received comments/suggestions from various individuals, law firms, National Law Universities, Government Organizations, Voluntary Consumer Organizations, and Trade Associations like NASSCOM, FICCI and E-Commerce Platforms.
The initiative taken by the Department towards drafting of guidelines and identification of dark patterns was appreciated in general by the industry stakeholders. Besides there were various suggestions for including certain new dark patterns, few more illustrations and modification of definitions of few existing dark patterns in the guidelines.
The Department of Consumer Affairs is in the process of examining the suggestions/comments received and final Guidelines for Prevention and Regulation of Dark Patterns will be notified soon.
Hackathon rounds and rewards for the winners
The Hackathon is divided into four rounds:
Round 1- Registration of participant Teams and Host Institutes
Round 2- Intra Institute DPBH 2023 to be organized
Round 3- Inter Institute DPBH 2023 to be organized and
Round 4- Distribution of awards and prizes on World Consumer Rights Day
The first prize winner of the hackathon will be given a prize money of Rs. 10 lakh, followed by Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 3 lakh to 2nd and 3rd prize winners. The 4th prize winner will receive an amount of Rs. 2 lakh while the 5th prize is of Rs. 1 lakh respectively. All the winners will also be rewarded with a Certificate of Achievement along with the prize money.