Consumer protection: German Environment Agency participates in European screening for manipulative online shop practices

Computerbildschirme auf blauem Hintergrund.Click to enlarge
A check surveyed websites across the EU for misleading presentation and content
Source: Nmedia /

The European consumer protection network, with the first-ever participation of the German Environment Agency, revealed manipulative practices on 148 out of 399 online shops it screened.

A screening, or “sweep”, of retail websites across the EU by the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPC) was carried out to detect possible “dark patterns”. Dark patterns refers to deceptive practices on websites meant to lead consumers to make choices that they might not otherwise make.

The CPC network screened 399 online shops of retail traders selling products ranging from clothing, electronic goods and household items to cosmetic products. They found that 148 sites contained at least one of three categories of dark patterns: fake countdown timers, manipulation of consumers to make certain choices that are more lucrative for the retailer, and hidden information relevant for consumers.

In a next step, national authorities will contact the traders concerned to remove these infringements from their websites.

See the following press release by the European Commission for more details:

The German Environment Agency (⁠UBA) was first-ever coordinator of the sweep covering Germany after responsibility for consumer protection became the remit of the Federal Environment Ministry. The check was carried out together with the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) and the Centre for Protection against Unfair Competition (Wettbewerbszentrale).

UBA works internationally in the collective interest of consumers. This activity does not involve the enforcement of individual claims by individual consumers. Consumers as a whole benefit from the fact that abuses and violations by companies operating in Europe are uncovered and remedied.

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 Dark patterns  Manipulative Webseitengestaltung  Sweep  Verbraucherschutz-Netzwerk  CPC