New research suggests leading tech companies are making it difficult for users to opt of out sharing personal data

New research published today by Consumers International‘s member the Norwegian Consumer Council suggests that leading tech companies are making difficult for consumers to opt out of sharing their personal data using a variety of design techniques and default settings.

Despite the introduction of the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came in to force in May 2018, the report says companies are using cunning design and invasive privacy defaults to limit consumer choice with regards to sharing personal data.

The Norwegian Consumer Council and several other consumer and privacy groups in Europe and the US are now calling on European data protection authorities to investigate whether the companies are acting in accordance with the GDPR and US rules.

The report, Deceived by Design: How tech companies use dark patterns to discourage us from exercising our rights to privacy, found evidence to suggest that consumers are pushed into sharing data through –

  • Standard settings: research shows users rarely change pre-selected settings
  • Cunning design choices: Sharing personal data and the use of targeted advertising are presented as exclusively beneficial, and opting out would lead to lost functionality for users
  • Confusing layout: Privacy friendly choices are often hidden, or require more clicks to reach
  • Illusion of choice: Services obscure that fact that users have very few actual choices, and that comprehensive data sharing is accepted just by using the service

Click here to view the full report (in English).