CMA and ICO Issue Joint Paper on Online Choice Architecture

August 11, 2023

On 9 August 2023, the Competition and Markets Authority and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published a joint position paper on online choice architecture (OCA), titled “Harmful design in digital markets: How Online Choice Architecture practices can undermine consumer choice and control over personal information”.

The paper forms part of the agencies’ work under the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum, which brings together multiple UK regulatory bodies to advance their combined thinking on regulatory issues in the digital economy.

OCA is an umbrella term used to describe the design of online environments, like apps and websites, that consumers interact with.  The paper summarises the agencies’ concerns over the use of potentially harmful OCA, with a particular focus on data collection.  It also offers practical guidance to firms using design practices in their digital products to maximise their compliance with relevant rules.  The paper welcomes engagement from stakeholders and invites them to participate in a workshop in autumn 2023 regarding good practices for the design of online privacy choices. 

The paper’s publication follows a flurry of interest in OCA from multiple UK regulators, especially the CMA.  For example, it follows the CMA’s April 2022 research paper on OCA (see our blog post here) and recent enforcement action for potential breaches of consumer law involving OCA, against Emma Group and Wowcher Group. 

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