Dark Commercial Patterns


There is mounting concern that dark commercial patterns may cause substantial consumer detriment. These practices, which are commonly found in online user interfaces, steer, deceive, coerce, or manipulate consumers into making choices that often are not in their best interests. In light of the growing need to address dark commercial patterns comprehensively, the OECD Committee on Consumer Policy first held a roundtable on the topic in November 2020 (OECD, 2021[9]). This report builds on the roundtable discussion, in particular by proposing a working definition of dark commercial patterns, setting out evidence of their prevalence and harms, and identifying possible policy and enforcement responses to assist consumer policy makers and authorities in addressing them. It also documents possible approaches consumers and businesses may take to mitigate dark commercial patterns.

The report was prepared by Nicholas McSpedden-Brown, under the supervision of Brigitte Acoca of the OECD Secretariat and in consultation with the Committee on Consumer Policy’s advisory group on dark commercial patterns. It was approved and declassified by written procedure by the Committee on Consumer Policy on 24 August 2022 and prepared for publication by the OECD Secretariat.