The California Privacy Protection Agency Board is set to appoint Dr. Jennifer King as the first member of the California Children's Data Protection Working Group. This working group was created by the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act (CAADCA) to provide a biennial report to the California legislature with recommendations on best practices for implementing the CAADCA, including regarding assessing and mitigating risks to children that arise from the use of an online service, product, or feature.
Dr. Jennifer King is an expert on dark patterns and has training in app use differences based on family income levels. Selecting Dr. King as the first appointee may be seen as a signal that the California Privacy Protection Agency is increasing its focus on dark patterns, especially with regard to their potential to manipulate children.
This is a good reminder of the increasing legal importance of testing the user experience of apps, games, and sites made for children (as well as for teens and adults) to help ensure they do not contain dark patterns. In addition to creating a bad user experience (and upsetting parents), dark patterns may result in liability under Section 5 of the FTC Act, state-level consumer protection laws, and state privacy laws.
The full CPPA memorandum recommending appointment of Dr. King is available here.
Dr. King has produced a number of publications on dark patterns, which are user interfaces designed or manipulated with the substantial effect of subverting or impairing user autonomy, decision-making, or choice. She coauthored "Regulating Dark Patterns in Practice – Applying the California Privacy Rights Act," published by the Georgetown Technology and Law Review, as well as "The Fertile Dark Matter of Privacy takes on the Dark Patterns of Surveillance," published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Dr. King's training in user-centered research, including her familiarity with the growing body of research analyzing how children use apps differently depending on their family's income level, has provided her expertise into the challenges faced by children from the many diverse communities of California.
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