How Free Internet Services Challenge Competition Law Tools: Personal Data and Market Definition

This seminar is part of the Centre for Business Law and Practice postgraduate research seminar series, where postgraduate students present their work and answer questions about it.

These are exciting times: society changes at an astounding pace, driven by rapid innovation. One area in which this change is prominent is the New Economy, in which new business models and technologies recurrently challenge established legal principles. Authorities and academics are increasingly confronted with Internet businesses. In competition law difficulties arise with market definition, the assessment of market power, or regarding practices specific to a type of online business. Traditional tools are not adapted to these cases.

This research wants to contribute to one part of the debate: how to define the market for free online goods or services. Specifically, the study focuses on the possibility of conceptualising personal data as the price consumers pay for free goods or services, for the purpose of performing the SSNIP (Small but Significant and Non-Transitory Increase in Price) test to define the market. To that aim, it is necessary to assess the concept of price and the requirements for a good to be considered a medium of exchange.