Podcast | From Big Oil to Big Tech: A brief history of antitrust

Columnist Katie Wilson tells us how the law created in the Gilded Age will help shape the next chapter of the Digital Age.

Pedestrians in front of glass atria

Pedestrians walk past the spheres near the Amazon campus in downtown Seattle, May 10, 2018. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

As a concept, antitrust may seem fairly simple. Companies that get too big and abuse their powers to unfairly eliminate competition, and maybe drive up prices, must be brought to heel, either through regulation or a breakup.

But the reality is not so simple, and the history of trustbusting in the United States has been uneven at best. Still, the government has managed to employ this power to interfere in the market to manage Big Oil, Big Railroad and Big Steel. Now it looks as if those powers will again be used, this time against Big Tech, in particular on Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon.

For this week's episode of the Crosscut Talks podcast, we are speaking with columnist Katie Wilson about the mounting efforts to rein in these digital behemoths and what the history of antitrust can tell us about this latest effort and its possible outcomes.


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