Amazon this week hit back against the Federal Trade Commission’s “dark patterns” lawsuit, filed in June at the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Washington.
The FTC alleges deceptive practices around Prime membership enrollment, auto-renewal and cancellation. Last month the agency amended its lawsuit to add the names of three Amazon executives and details from internal company documents.
On Wednesday, in response, the e-commerce giant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, arguing its processes comply with existing laws and regulations and even the FTC’s own best practices recommendations.
“Prime’s sign-up and cancellation processes are clear and simple by design. Customers sign up for Prime because it’s an incredible service and a great value, and they can cancel their Prime membership with a few clicks from the home page,” an Amazon spokesperson said by email Friday. “The sign-up and cancellation processes have always met a standard for customers well above legal requirements. The FTC’s claims should be rejected and the case dismissed.”
The FTC on Friday declined to comment.
In its motion to dismiss, Amazon attacked the agency’s arguments on several fronts. The company downplayed FTC allegations regarding deception, in part by comparing its Prime sign-up, renewal and cancellation process to any traditional marketing that is designed to persuade people to buy something.
Amazon also took issue with the FTC’s reliance on concepts like “dark patterns,” which are user interfaces designed to induce online users or e-commerce customers to make choices they don’t want, often without them realizing it.
“This unconstitutionally vague standard fails to draw a discernible line between traditional advertising — a primary function of which is to persuade consumers — and illegal practices,” Amazon said in court documents.
The company also objected to the agency’s use of “internal Amazon discussions about potential changes to the sign-up process that were either not implemented or implemented only temporarily.”
To the extent that any consumers felt misled, they would amount to “at most, a low-single-digit percentage of confused consumers,” Amazon said.