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ASCI to monitor ed-tech dark patterns to prevent manipulation of customers

ASCI’s secretary general and chief executive Manisha Kapoor explained, dark pattern refers to design behaviourial techniques being deployed by advertisers to manipulate the customers.

ASCI to monitor ed-tech dark patterns to prevent manipulation of customers
Major concern of the advertising council is privacy.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) will keep a close watch on the education technology sector and ‘dark patterns’ going ahead, a top official said on Friday.

According to an official statement, ASCI’s secretary general and chief executive Manisha Kapoor explained, dark pattern refers to design behaviourial techniques being deployed by advertisers to manipulate the customers through fake reviews or falsehoods on pricing.

“We are working on Edtech. We find education is a highly violative sector and will come out with a report after our study,” Kapoor told PTI, speaking a day after the self regulatory organisation’s annual general meeting elected N S Rajan as its chairman. She said with dark patterns, the body is taking a closer look through a detailed study.

The official made it clear that the studies may or may not result in changes in the recommended code, but the broader attempt by ASCI is to nudge the industry participants and come out with guidelines wherever required.

The statement said, another major concern of the advertising council is privacy, which is drawing the interest of regulators across the world. ASCI feels that they are trailing in this aspect in India, Kapoor said. She hoped that the revised data privacy bill is strong enough of taking care of all the concerns for an orderly growth of the industry.

Building deterrence among the advertisers is a key aspect for the body, the newly-elected ASCI chairman said, there will be an emphasis on prevention to ensure that incidents of objectionable advertising are minimised.

The intent is to ensure that the consumer interest is protected and aspired for a system where the brands take responsibilities towards consumers as seriously as they pay attention to creativity, the statement added.

On being asked if the body will help advertisers who garner adverse attention for promoting universal values like brotherhood by taking it up with the government, Manisha Kapoor said, the job can be better done by bodies like Advertising Agencies Association of India, who are more directly related to it.

Referring to the recent advertisement by Tata Group’s jewellery brand Tanishq, Kapoor opined that the campaign was not found to be violative of the ASCI code. Similarly, amidst a dash to the courts by some bodies for banning meat advertising, Kapoor further stated that the body does not feel non-vegetarian food advertisements violate its codes.

With inputs from PTI

Also Read: Education’s value now similar to share in stock market, says Mahatma Gandhi’s hologram at UN

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