US Senate Bill to reduce "Deceptive User Experiences" (The DETOUR Act)

This bill was just introduced to the US Senate:

In my opinion, the choice quote seems to be the following:

“It shall be unlawful for any large online operator
A) to design, modify, or manipulate a user interface with the purpose or substantial effect
of obscuring, subverting, or impairing user autonomy, decision-making, or choice to obtain consent or user data;
B) to subdivide or segment consumers of online services into groups for the purposes of behavioral or psychological experiments or studies, except with the informed consent of each
user involved; or
C) to design, modify, or manipulate a user interface on a website or online service, or portion thereof, that is directed to an individual under the age of 13, with the purpose or substantial effect of cultivating compulsive usage, including video auto-play functions initiated without the consent of a user.”

Thoughts / Notes:

Every “large online operator” uses A/B testing, so that will be interesting.
In the press materials around this bill, the Senators (Mark Warner and Deb Fischer) make reference to “Dark Patterns” which would not have gotten nearly as much amplification as it did without Tristan Harris’ advocacy.
Though (A) isn’t defined that well… it turns out that the bill proposes that a “professional standards body” to work with the Federal Trade Commission to come up with the actual rules and regulate them.
Here is the related Hackernews discussion:

What do you think?


A new bill has been proposed in the United States forbidding large tech (companies with over 100 million authenticated users) from using dark patterns to trick people into “consenting” to give away their personal information.

The bill is hoping to protect people from being scammed into unknowingly signing away their rights to their privacy, and from giving away ownership of personal data to big tech. Dark patterns are deceptive techniques used by seemingly all of big tech to manipulate the human population for their own malicious gain.

According to the Verge, the proposed act “would ban platforms from designing, modifying, or manipulating a user interface in a way that impairs users from making educated decisions before consenting and giving companies access to their personal data.”


Yes, I found this one via Hacker News too (now 112 comments). HN thread also contains the link to the actual text of the law:

(PS. I merged 2 threads about the same topic into one)

Thanks for the merge!

Seems my topic was created 1 minute after the one by hmswaffles. On the bad timing.

I strongly support this law and think it should go much further. However this law might perhaps do little because us lowly humans will be given the following options:

  1. Agree to be abused and have our dignity destroyed by these rich and greedy surveillance capitalists
  2. Not be able to use the free services of big bag tech at all

Unless I’m missing something, does it say people who opt-out must still be given the right to use any related services?