“Dark patterns”: European authorities root out manipulative practices by online stores

Spot checks of online retailers by the EC and its consumer protection partners have revealed that many are still using practices intended to trick consumers into making purchases. 

An inspection of 399 online shops by the European Commission (EC) and the national consumer protection authorities of 23 EU member states plus Norway and Iceland, known collectively as the CPC Network, has found that 148 are using manipulative practices aimed at misleading purchasers.  

Some of the methods, often referred to as dark patterns, include the use of fake countdown timers that suggest to buyers that their desired item will be gone if not bought straight away as well as web interfaces designed to pressure consumers into purchases, subscriptions or other possibly unwanted choices. The worst method, found in 70 cases, was the use of hidden information that could affect the cost of the products being sold, including huge delivery charges.  

The sweep also included the apps of 102 websites screened, 27 of which also deployed at least one of these three categories of dark patterns.  

“Our screening shows that nearly 40% of the online shopping websites rely on manipulative practices to exploit consumers’ vulnerabilities or trick them,” Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders says. “This behaviour is clearly wrong and against consumer protection.” 

The CPC Network and other relevant authorities will now contact the traders and give them a chance to come into compliance or take additional action if national procedures deem it necessary.  

“Today, we already have binding tools to help tackle such issues and I call on national authorities to make use of their enforcement capacities to take relevant action and fight these practices,” Reynders adds. “In parallel, the Commission is reviewing all consumer legislation to ensure it is fit for the digital age, including to assess whether dark patterns are adequately covered.”  


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Photo source: Andrew Neel for Unsplash


Decorative pieces by local entrepreneur help fund monk seal protection

The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation has accepted a €3,000 donation from Sophia Vaharis-Tsouvelekakis, founder and creative mind behind the MyCrown Collection brand.

“The Foundation is grateful to receive this donation from MyCrown Collection, for a second consecutive year, for its action in favour of the preservation of the monk seal, a species that almost completely disappeared 20 years ago,” said Foundation Vice-President Olivier Wenden.

Entrepreneur Sophia Vaharis Tsouvelekakis is the creative mind behind the brand MyCrown Collection, says that the idea came about when she was going through old clothing in her and her family’s closets. She came upon several pieces she knew would never be worn again, but she didn’t have the heart to give them up. The result was first her hallmark pillows and table napkins created from shirts, scarves, dresses, and skirts, which she soon decided was more than just a personal project, but a fantastic idea for a small business venture.

Nowadays, the decorative pillows and several of the table mats are made from old men’s shirts contributing to the concept of less waste for the environment. In addition, the MyCrown Collection has collaborated with the Prince Albert II Foundation, donating 30% of all purchases made in Monaco to the Foundation to support projects protecting the oceans and the Earth.


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Photo courtesy My Crown Collection 

Monaco Life’s FA Cup Highlights: Both Manchester clubs progress

Manchester City and Manchester United both progressed in the FA Cup over the weekend, Liverpool’s trouble continued and non-league side Wrexham will face a replay against Sheffield United. The two Manchester clubs are the clear favourites to win this year’s competition, with challengers Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool all out.

Manchester City 1-0 Arsenal – Pep Guardiola’s side have had a tough run so far. They narrowly overcame Chelsea in the third round, and then had to face Premier League leaders Arsenal in the fourth round. Nathan Aké’s goal proved the difference, and their reward is an easier tie against Bristol City.

Brighton 2-1 Liverpool – Within the context of the season, this result wasn’t a massive shock. The Seagulls have looked brilliant, firstly under Graham Potter, and more recently under Roberto De Zerbi. Karou Mitoma’s injury-time winner allows Brighton to progress, at the expense of Liverpool, who now only have the Champions League to compete for this season.

Preston 0-3 Tottenham – Antonio Conte’s side may not be at their best at the moment, but they have an outside shot of silverware this season. A Heung-Min Son double put Tottenham on their way to victory. Manchester City and Manchester United will be favourites to life the trophy at Wembley at the end of the season, but Tottenham are certainly in with a shot.

Walsall 0-1 Leicester City – Whilst Leicester’s woes in the league continue, the former Premier League champions are relying on the cup for a bit of respite. Kalechi Iheanacho scored the only goal of the game to give the Foxes a slender victory.

Wrexham 3-3 Sheffield United – The Welsh side, owned by Hollywood pair Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, almost pulled off the shock of the round by beating Championship side Sheffield United. Wrexham aren’t even in the football league, but their championship opponents had to rely on a John Egan goal late in stoppage time to force a replay.

Elsewhere, Premier League sides West Ham United, Southampton and Leeds United progressed. There will be a number of replays after a spate of draws: Sheffield Wednesday, Fleetwood Town, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham, Ipswich Town, Burnley, Luton Town, Grimsby Town, Fulham and Sunderland will all have to play again in order to secure their place in the next round.

Manchester United versus West Ham United is currently the standout fixture of the next round of the cup, although due to the sheer number of replays that will be taking place, many ties are yet to be decided.


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Photo by D J Gunn

Last month to get those skates on

These are the last weeks to enjoy the Roller Station at the Stade Nautique on Port Hercule.

After a successful launch on 2nd December 2022, the Mairie de Monaco has decided to extend the run of the roller station rink until Sunday 26th February.

The Roller Station has taken up residence at the Stade Nautique Rainier III, in the location normally occupied by the swimming pool, and replaces the winter ice rink which had been sidelined this year due to the energy savings.

For those without their own equipment, roller skates are available on site for visitors.

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Photo by Monaco Life

French Riviera to host first ever World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival

100 of the most influential AI industry leaders are heading to Cannes for an event that will put the city on the world stage for game-changing tech and innovation.  

Over three days at the Palais des Festival of Cannes, from 9th to 11th February, decision-makers and major players from the artificial intelligence sphere will share at the World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival their visionary solutions and advancements that could help business owners and marketers take their own strategies to the next level.  

A packed programme of conferences and debates will look at five key realms for development: AI in society to help “understand the benefits of artificial intelligence for society and our planet, and the challenges to overcome”; an exploration of the work being done today that will lead to innovation in tomorrow’s society and organisations; AI strategies for improving and scaling business models; learning how to best use the AI technologies on the market; and AI applications, which will help participants understand the progress AI can bring to various industries.  

A series of fascinating immersive experiences will also be on offer, from the worlds of gaming and augmented reality to robotics and hospitality-based AI solutions.  

The Saturday has been designated as an open day for the public – the previous two days are dedicated to industry professionals – and free passes can be booked here.  


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Photo source: WAICF 2021


Explained: the new tax form all French home owners must fill out

Whether you own a main residency, holiday home or rental investment, a new property tax requirement is coming into effect this year: the déclaration d’occupation. Here’s what you need to know.  

As of this year, home owners in France, including non-residents, will have an additional tax declaration to make after changes to the property tax system that are part of the overall restructuring set out by the Finance Law of 2020. 

Now, all property owners will need to register the occupation status of the addresses under the Gérer mes biens immobiliers section of their account on impots.gouv.fr. The new requirement came into play on 1st January and the deadline extends until 30th June. 

It is a necessary change as following the general phasing out of the taxe d’habitation for most of the property-owning population, the General Directorate of Public Finances (DGFiP) no longer has a record of the usage of a property, for example if it is a main residence, a second-home or rented out.  

The new declaration allows the DGFiP to identify whether or not a property owner will be liable for the taxe d’habitation or the tax on vacant housing. It anticipates 34 million people are affected by the change, which will categorise the 73 million homes in France.  

The new requirement could also help weed out tax-dodging landlords as owners will be obliged to declare the identities of the occupants of their property. 

The déclaration d’occupation isn’t an annual requirement, but you will need to update its status should your situation change, for example if you buy or sell a property, or indeed turn a second-home into a main residence. The new declaration has no impact on the taxe foncière, which will continue to be paid for by the property owner. 

Those who fail to declare the occupation status of their property could be in line for a €150 fine.  


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Photo source: Angelina Herbert for Unsplash