ICO and Competition Markets Authority (CMA) issue joint report on harmful design in digital markets

The ICO and CMA have issued a joint report which outlines their concerns that design practices being used by websites are making it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions. The report states that “Consumers’ ability to exercise meaningful choice and control is fundamental to robust data protection, consumer protection and competition regulation” and notes that when using harmful design practices, organisations are breaching data protection law.

In its blog about the report, the ICO advises that in order to avoid harmful design practices, organisations should be:

  • Putting the user at the heart of design choices. Building online interfaces around customers’ interests and preferences.
  • Using design that empowers user choice and control. Helping users to make effective and informed choices about their personal information and putting them in control of how it is used.
  • Testing and trialling design choices. Using design that has been tested and trialled, to ensure design choices are evidence based.
  • Complying with data protection, consumer and competition law. Considering the implications of these laws in design practices.

This focus on design architecture ties in with the strong line the ICO has taken in relation to organisations which do not allow website users to effectively reject non-essential cookies. With this increased focus on website compliance, now may be a good time to do some housekeeping and evaluate just how well your website is performing when it comes to ensuring users have the ability to easily express their privacy preferences.

The blog and report can be accessed here.

If you would like assistance with privacy issues relating to website design, please get in touch with your usual contact or email us at hello@hellodpo.com


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