The EU, Tech Trustbusting, and Trade Wars

There’s a difference between protectionism and political will

The EU flag superimposed over a Matrix “code waterfall” effect; in the center of the ring of stars is a vintage newspaper caricature of Roosevelt as a trustbuster, swinging his “big stick.”

Competition regulators in the EU, the UK and the US are all looking hard at concentration in the tech sector, and well they should: an industry that was once hailed for its dynamism — for being a sector where yesterday’s world-spanning titans are sold for parts to companies that were mere napkin doodles a year or two before — has calcified into “a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four.

The reasons for tech concentration are pretty straightforward. Despite a lot of fatalistic tech exceptionalism about “network effects” leading to inevitable monopolization, the actual means by which tech companies consolidated is actually easy to see in the historical record.

Continue reading "The EU, Tech Trustbusting, and Trade Wars"