Anti-trust suits, then and now


A guilty pleasure of mine is trawling through the oocities mirror of the legendary GeoCities. There are some amazing gems and snapshots in time. A. Kressman wrote this in 1998:

My conclusion is simple. If a company such as Netscape are unable to compete, then why should the successful market leader be forced to make concessions to give the competition a chance? This is mainly what the situation boils down to.

This wasn’t an uncommon view for the time. I was still a kid, so I didn’t have any (informed) opinions beyond an uncomfortable feeling that my prior love for Microsoft OSs and software may have been misplaced. Or it could have been the fact I’d also discovered Red Hat Linux and the Mac around the same time, and realised a bunch of thing I couldn’t stand about the computers I otherwise loved were in fact specific to a certain ecosystem. Then I discovered the BSDs.

But I digress. With hindsight, and all the facts, their actions were a clear abuse of power, and the US Department of Justice were right to call them out for it.

But lately my line has been that other contemporary web companies have been getting away with far worse. That seems to be changing, as reported by the Wall Street Journal by Brent Kendall and John D. McKinnon, and now CNBC:

The U.S. Justice Department is planning an antitrust investigation into Alphabet’s Google subsidiary, according to several reports on Friday. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. […] The report comes amid discussion from politicians and the public about whether large technology companies should be broken up.

This refers to Elizabeth Warren’s plans which I blogged about last month.

Jordan Novet and Jennifer Elias go on to mention Alphabet and Google’s past issues with the FTC and the European Commission in the report, which I’d already forgot.

I didn’t have any further comment, beyond the synchronicity of reading those two pages within the same day, despite a two-decade age difference!

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