A bipartisan Act proposed by US Senators
Mark Warner (D-VA) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) would counter immoral data collection
methods by large online platforms, forbidding “deceptive practices” and “dark
patterns” that manipulate users into giving away personal data or giving up
privacy altogether, writes
CNBC
.

The idea for the DETOUR
(Deceptive Experiences To Online Users Reduction) Act came following the countless
data breaches and privacy issues, and the spread of fake or harmful content across
social platforms. The large online platforms will have to be more transparent
with all strategies involving customers. The bill has so far received support
from tech companies like Microsoft, Mozilla and Common Sense.

“Any privacy policy involving
consent is weakened by the presence of dark patterns,” Senator Fischer said.
“These manipulative user interfaces intentionally limit understanding and
undermine consumer choice.”

Facebook, Twitter and Google have
long manipulated users into releasing phone or email contacts without explaining
what they were consenting to. Most concerning for US legislators, though, is
that they’ve run manipulative schemes and “behavioral experiments” on children
13 years old and younger. For example, to use Facebook Messenger, Warner said
on Twitter, users of all ages are asked to give the app access to their agenda.
However, the companies will not be castigated for third-party ads displaying
such practices.

“For years, social media
platforms have been relying on all sorts of tricks and tools to convince users
to hand over their personal data without really understanding what they are
consenting to,” said
Mark Warner, who is also Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Our
goal is simple: to instill a little transparency in what remains a very opaque
market and ensure that consumers are able to make more informed choices about
how and when to share their personal information.”

The responsibility to implement
the law would fall under a Federal Trade Commission body.

For almost a year, Warner has been working on regulating tech companies and online platforms, and even released a white paper that discusses this extensively. He has three more bills up his sleeve. These will focus on data transparency and how businesses make billions off customer data.