Legal Design Roundtable “Dark patterns in Data Protection: Law, Nudging, Design and the Role of Technology”

April 27, 2019

Dark patterns are choice architectures used by many websites and apps to maliciously nudge users towards a decision that they would not have made if properly informed. Such deceptive that exploit individuals’ heuristics and cognitive biases (e.g. interfaces designed to hide costs until the very end of the transaction, services and products added to the consumer’s basket by default, etc.) are already well-known and sanctioned in the consumer protection domain. Regrettably, dark patterns have become widespread also in the area of data protection, where users are de facto forced to accept intrusive privacy settings, because of the way the information is framed and privacy choices presented by website’s operators. When users are tricked by design not only they can be harmed but also their trust in the digital market is likely to be affected. Dark patterns are therefore posing an additional challenge to data protection law, that needs to be addressed in an interdisciplinary way.

The Legal Design Roundtable aims to foster a constructive debate on the practice of dark patterns and to involve lawyers, academics, designers, technologists, civil rights advocates, policy makers. Legal Design is an interdisciplinary field – at the crossroad of law, design, behavioural sciences, computer science – that applies human-centred design to prevent or solve legal problem. What tools and methodology can legal design offer to address the issue of dark patterns? If we know what are the biases and heuristics used for manipulating users, can we reverse engineer dark patterns into “light” patterns?



Odisee Campus, Hermes Building, 6st floor, room 6201

Rue d’Assaut/Stormstraat 2, 1000 Brussels



14.00 – 14.30 Registration

14.30 – 14.40 Welcoming remarks 

Alain Strowel (UCLouvain, Université Saint-Louis, KULeuven, IP Munich Centre) and Rossana Ducato (UCLouvain and Université Saint-Louis)



14.40 – 15.00 Invited speeches

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS (by remote) – video and text

Antonia Fokkema, DG JUST, Directorate E for Consumers – Slides


15.00 – 16.00 Impulse talks by

Monica Palmirani, Full Professor of Legal Informatics at the University of Bologna (by remote)

Margaret Hagan, Director of the Stanford Legal Design Lab

Estelle Hary, Designer at Technology and Innovation Department, CNIL – Slides

Stefania Passera, Designer and Fellow at the University of Helsinki – Slides

Helena Haapio, Professor at the University of Vaasa

Anne-Lise Sibony, Professor at UCLouvain

Moderator: Rossana Ducato


16.00 – 16.50 Debate

Sari Depreeuw, Professor at Université Saint-Louis – Bruxelles

Dariusz Kloza, Researcher at Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Arianna Rossi, Postdoc researcher at SnT, University of Luxembourg

Christoph Schmon, Senior Legal Officer at BEUC

Peggy Valcke, Professor at KULeuven

Chair: Alain Strowel


16.50 – 17.00 Concluding remarks by Rossana Ducato

17.00 – 18.00 The Light Patterns Cocktail


The Legal Design Roundtable is an event promoted within the Jean Monnet Module “European IT Law by Design”, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the European Union.


Short Bibliography

NCC, Deceived by Design (2018)
Bösch, Christoph, et al. “Tales from the dark side: Privacy dark strategies and privacy dark patterns.” Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies 2016.4 (2016): 237-254.
Gray, Colin M., et al. “The dark (patterns) side of UX design.” Proceedings of the 2018 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. ACM, 2018.
Chromik, M., et al., “Dark Patterns of Explainability, Transparency, and User Control for Intelligent Systems.” IUI Workshops’19, March 20, 2019, Los Angeles, USA

Posted by rossana

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