Are the giant ‘Technology Trusts’ – Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google – on the road to the monopolists’ breakers yard? It’s received wisdom they soon will be. As Edward Luce writes in the FT, 'Big Tech is the new big tobacco in Washington. It is not a question of whether the regulatory backlash will come, but when and how.'
Delving into United States trust-busting history can help answer that question. Back in 1900, the Rockefellers pooled their copper mining interests with my (sadly, distant) cousin Adolph Lewisohn and a few others, founding a vehicle which would control an epic 70 percent of US copper output. And they trumpeted their rationale in a way which seems charmingly naïve to the modern reader: ‘The reason given for the formation of the United Metals Selling Company’, the New York Times reported on 3 February 1900, ‘is that it will aid the interested concerns “to avoid competition, and so get better prices”’.