Competition policy practitioners are becoming increasingly suspicious about free of charge Internet services, notably search engines. It is argued that, in fact, services were not for free, but that users would pay with information about themselves, by giving up privacy. This suggests an antitrust perspective in which personal information should be treated as a currency, in which the harvesting of excessive information might be abusive. This article offers a different perspective, in which free Internet services are better explained by paying advertisers. In this context, personal information functions as an efficiency rather than a currency (within limits). The distinction is important as the diverging perspectives may lead to fundamentally different assessments of relevant markets, dominance and conducts in online markets.
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