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為啥網站已經替我打了勾?揭穿科技公司騙取用戶數據的常見手段

網站經常在服務條款中預先幫你打好了勾,或者經常會在你進行某項活動時彈出一個對話框,誘使用戶同意網站收集其個人數據。

近日,兩名美國參議員提出了一項兩黨連立議案,該議案擬禁止網站的“操縱型”設計功能和提示——比如谷歌和臉書等大型網站就經常通過這種誘導性設計,“欺騙消費者交出他們的個人數據”。

根據民主黨籍參議員馬克·華納的辦公室發布的新聞通稿,兩周前,華納和共和黨籍參議員黛比·費舍爾聯名提交了這項所謂的“黑暗模式”議案。據介紹,網站的這些操縱手法都是有行為心理學依據的。比如網站經常在服務條款中預先幫你打好了勾,或者經常會在你進行某項活動(比如網購、看文章)時彈出一個對話框,誘使用戶同意網站收集其個人數據。

該法案只針對那些月活躍用戶超過1億人的大網站。隨著人們對那些大型互聯網平臺愈發不滿,呼吁加強監管的聲浪也越來越高。雖然本周二提交的這項法案屬于兩黨連立議案,但國會負責網絡隱私立法的幾個關鍵委員會尚未就此跟進。到目前為止,在國會中獲得支持最多的意見還是立一部國家層面的隱私法。

華納也是參議院情報委員會的副主席。他表示:“這些年來,社交媒體平臺依賴各種各樣的花招和工具,說服用戶在并不真正了解實情的情況下交出他們的個人數據。”該法案的正式名稱叫做“減少在線用戶被欺騙體驗法案”,簡稱“DETOUR法案”。

臉書和推特的代表拒絕對此事發表評論,不過他們都表示會對該法案的內容進行評估。谷歌公司的代表并未及時回復我們的評論請求。

“黑暗模式”的概念是由設計學研究員、認知科學家哈利·布里格納爾在2010年首次提出的,指的是網站或應用程序采用誘導性或脅迫性設計,迫使用戶采取或不采取某種行動。在周二發布的一系列推文中,華納列舉了幾個網站和應用程序常用的欺詐性手段,比如在廣告中故意放一個明顯的污漬或碎發圖案,用戶往往不自覺地想用手把它抹去,結果就點開了廣告。布里格納爾本周二也表示,“黑暗模式”在網絡上隨處可見,更是臉書、推特和谷歌做生意時的常用法門。

比如眾所周知,如果用戶有一段時間沒有訪問過臉書,臉書就會向用戶發電子郵件和短信息,敦促用戶回到網站來。以前很多科技公司都默認開戶數據分享功能,或者是通過層層設置隱藏了選擇不共享的功能。

布里格納爾表示:“過去10年間,這些伎倆變得更加普遍了,所有大型科技平臺都會使用這樣或那樣的類似伎倆。”

去年,歐洲通過了一系列具有里程碑意義的網絡隱私規定,目標之一就是使互聯網用戶更清楚地了解自己同意了哪些事項。然而這也導致用戶每次登陸一個網站時,都會彈出一個窗口向用戶索要數據,很多人為了避免麻煩,干脆點擊“同意”了事。

本周二的這項法案明確界定,“為達到迷惑、損害、削弱用戶的自主權、決策權或選擇權的目的,或為了達到以上效果,而設計、修改或操縱用戶界面,以獲取用戶同意或用戶數據”的行為屬于違法。此外,該法案還明文禁止網站未經用戶同意,對消費者進行劃分以開展行為實驗。同時,該法案還禁止了旨在“令兒童產生沖動性消費”的設計。

華納辦公室的一名女發言人表示,該法案不會因臉書和YouTube等大型平臺上的廣告采取了“黑暗模式”,就對其進行處罰,因為很多廣告都是由第三方公司創建和付費的。

這項法案得到了微軟公司政策主管弗雷德·漢弗萊斯的高度贊揚。漢弗萊斯表示,微軟支持立法者們為保護民眾免受商業剝削和欺騙所做的努力。微軟此前曾呼吁為人工智能業務制訂倫理標準,并呼吁對網絡隱私和傳播內容加強責任監督。如果這兩項成為現實,則也會對大型社交媒體網站及其廣告業務產生影響。

此前,有四名參議員表示他們正在起草一項全面的隱私法案,本月初,幾名權威共和黨參議員對此事表示了樂觀態度,不過他們并未透露隱私法的立法還需要等多久,也未透露他們是否已與民主黨就一些核心條款達成共識,包括各州法律的角色等。

除了加強監管(比如聯邦貿易委員會就曾對臉書的數據分享行為進行過調查),美國立法者和活動人士也表達了對其他一些問題的擔憂,如不雅內容、針對兒童的產品植入、假新聞、數據流失、干擾選舉、宣揚政治偏見等,并呼吁對此加強監管。議會已經有人起草了幾項相關法案,但近期通過的可能性并不高。不過隨著華盛頓逐步著手解決與科技有關的政策問題,這些提案中的部分理念,或許未來真的能夠體現在立法中。

本周二,眾議院的一個委員會還就白人至上主義現象舉行了一場聽證會,谷歌和臉書的代表都在聽證會上作了證。(財富中文網)

譯者:樸成奎

Two U.S. senators introduced a bipartisan bill that would ban “manipulative” design features and prompts that let large websites such as Alphabet’s Google or Facebook “trick consumers into handing over their personal data.”

Democratic Senator Mark Warner and Republican Senator Deb Fischer introduced the bill on so-called “dark patterns” on Tuesday, according to a news release from Warner’s office. Such features, based on behavioral psychology, include pre-checked boxes or pop-ups in the middle of an activity—such as an e-commerce purchase or reading a story online—that prompt users to consent to the collection of personal data.

The bill, which would only apply to websites with more than 100 million monthly active users, comes as anger with large internet platforms has led to rising calls for regulation. Although the bill introduced Tuesday is bipartisan, key committees that would have to legislate on the issue have not yet picked up the effort. So far, congressional efforts to pass a national privacy law have gained the most momentum with lawmakers.

“For years, social media platforms have been relying on all sorts of tricks and tools to convince users to hand over their personal data without really understanding what they are consenting to,” Warner, who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement. The legislation is dubbed DETOUR, for “Deceptive Experiences to Online Users Reduction” Act.

Representatives for (fb, +1.57%)Facebook and Twitter declined to comment beyond saying the companies would review specifics of the bill. A representative for (goog, -0.53%)Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The term “dark pattern” was coined by design researcher and cognitive scientist Harry Brignull in 2010 to refer to any tricky or coercive website or app design that tried to get a user to take—or not take—a certain action. In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Warner cited deceptions such as the placement of an apparent smudge or stray hair over an ad to get a click from a user trying to wipe it away. But dark patterns are all over the web, and are core to the way companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google do business, Brignull said on Tuesday.

Facebook has a well-documented history of sending emails and text messages to users who haven’t visited the site for a while, urging them to return. Tech companies in the past have also turned on data-sharing by default, or have hidden the ability to opt out of sharing behind layers of settings.

“In the last 10 years these tricks have become much more widespread,” Brignull said. “All of the big tech platforms use these kinds of tricks one way or another.”

One of the goals of the landmark European privacy rules that came into force last year was to give internet users more clarity about what they were consenting to. That’s led to a battery of new pop-ups asking people for data every time they go to a website, prompting many to simply click yes to avoid the annoyance.

In addition to making it illegal for large platforms “to design, modify, or manipulate a user interface with the purpose or substantial effect of obscuring, subverting, or impairing user autonomy, decision-making, or choice to obtain consent or user data,” the bill would prohibit dividing up consumers to perform behavioral experiments without their consent and would stop designs that are meant “to create compulsive usage among children.”

The bill won’t penalize big advertising platforms like Facebook and Google’s YouTube for running ads that exhibited “dark patterns,” because a third party is creating and paying for the ad, a Warner spokeswoman said.

The bill attracted praise from a policy executive at Microsoft, Fred Humphries, who said the company supports the lawmakers’ efforts to protect people from exploitative and deceptive practices. Software giant Microsoft has previously called for ethics standards in its artificial intelligence business as well as regulations on privacy and content liability that could also affect large social media sites and their ad-driven businesses.

Earlier this month, top Republican senators expressed optimism about the efforts of a bipartisan foursome of lawmakers from the chamber who are seeking to write a comprehensive privacy bill, but they declined to say how close the legislation might be or if they’d reached compromises with Democrats on key divisions, including the role of state laws.

In addition to regulatory scrutiny, such as a Federal Trade Commission probe of Facebook’s data-sharing practices, lawmakers and activists have also expressed concerns about—or sought to regulate—tech issues including inappropriate content, product placement aimed at kids, fake news, data lapses, election meddling, and alleged political bias. Several bills have landed that are unlikely to pass, but incorporate ideas that could make it into future legislation as Washington comes to grips with policy issues related to technology.

On Tuesday, a House committee also held a hearing on white supremacy, where representatives from Google and Facebook testified.

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