Published: Wed, 13 December 2023
In response to the growing concerns around addictive digital design, Sean Kelly, MEP for Ireland South, voices his support for new legislation aimed at curbing potentially harmful features such as infinite scrolling, default auto-play, and constant push notifications. The European Parliament overwhelming supported the proposal with 545 in favour, 12 against and 61 abstentions.
Kelly emphasises the urgency of addressing addictive design practices, stating, “In the digital age, it is essential to safeguard consumers, particularly against features designed to exploit vulnerabilities and captivate attention for extended periods. Our goal is to strike a balance that fosters responsible digital use while minimising the negative impact on mental and physical health.”
MEPs call for the Commission to evaluate the reversal of the burden of proof when consumers signal that a given design is addictive. Kelly underscores this, stating, “We must empower consumers to voice concerns about addictive design, and the burden of proof should shift when authorities identify designs as potentially addictive.”
The proposal also advocates for undertakings to have an obligation to develop digital products and services without dark patterns and misleading or addictive design ‘by design.’ Kelly stresses the importance of ethical digital products, stating, “By fostering ethical digital practices, we can create an online environment that prioritises user well-being.”
“The Parliament’s report includes a list of potential addictive designs, such as endless scrolling and default auto-play. It clear that the Commission should assess regulatory gaps in existing directives. This is particularly important when you consider the impact of digital addiction on children’s health”, Kelly asserts.