Dear Readers,

Privacy is one of the key policy issues of our time. The shift to a digital economy has brought about fundamental changes to the nature of modern commerce. Many of the most valuable services used by citizens worldwide are free at the point of consumption. Search, social media, messaging, and various forms of online content are available to users for no up-front monetary charge. Instead, companies monetize such services through other means, typically by selling advertising. 

This renders the consumer’s quid-pro-quo (or the “price” they pay) not to be counted in Euros, dollars, or cents, but in terms of their attention (or “eyeballs” in marketing jargon). Companies increasingly rely on data concerning user behavior and preferences in order to better target the advertisements that generate their revenue.

This shift raises legal challenges. Antitrust, in particular, has long been governed by the implicit motto that price competition is the central nervous system of the economy. When price is no longer quantifiable in currency terms, the application of established principles becomes challenging. Other concerns relating to breaches of privacy have led to different legislative developments, including notably the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. That law became a template for similar legislation around the world, including in jurisdictions as diverse as Turkey, Mauritius, Chile, Japan, Brazil, South Korea, South Africa,

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