[Report] Shaping Choices in the Digital World

Shaping Choices in the Digital World
From dark patterns to data protection: the influence of UX/UI design on user empowerment
Jean Lessi (Publication Director); Gwendal Le Grand (Editor); Régis Chatellier, Geoffrey Delcroix, Estelle Hary, Camille Girard Chanudet (writers)
January 2019, 50 pages
Published by LINC (R&D unit) of CNIL (French government data privacy agency)

Interface design already began to influence our lives way before the GDPR became applicable. Our movements and actions have long been guided by architectures of choice designed and implemented by others. Large retailers organise their stores to maximize purchases, with pre-established paths placing water packs at the far end of the store and candies at the checkout lines. Yet these questions take an unprecedented turn as they now apply to digital services that use design methods to capture our attention so as to process more and more personal data.

The report is divided in four chapters and it also includes a design fiction on attention economy and tricks such as dark patterns. We also highlight the big platforms’ ability to use UX and UI as a soft power tool. Using their central position in the digital ecosystem, they establish themselves as essential references, which spread specific visual grammars across the digital world.

The last chapter consists of policy recommendations. Interface design should be at the center of the regulator’s concerns, just as it is already at the heart of the relationship between individuals and service providers. Finally, this report proposes avenues for design professionals to discuss their respective practices and co-build privacy-friendly design practices.