Two thoughts on this, possibly worth pondering:

1. The definition of "antitrust" may be outdated.

Antitrust regs kick in when one company has undue control over an industry.

What exactly is "undue"?

What exactly is an "industry"?

In a world where "products" and "industries" and "platforms" are increasingly virtual, overlapping, and interconnected, the defining frame of reference for those terms is in flux, almost continuously.

If I control all automobile production, customers appear "happy" because they're choosing my product rather than other choices in the transportation industry like motorcycles, trucks, bicycles, trains, buses, scooters, etc.

As long as there is a single bookstore anywhere on the Internet, can Bezos say Amazon's practices are not predatory?

And why do duopolies get a free pass altogether?

I don't have the answers to these questions. But these - and many others - seem worth asking.

A small subset of these questions are being asked of Apple by antitrust regulators as we speak:

"Appleā€™s antitrust woes stem from its obsessions with control and money"

2. The definition of "trust" may be outdated.

Consider this brief list:

- Tim Cook
- Satya Nadella
- Sundar Pichai
- Mark Zuckerberg
- Jeff Bezos

Five men. Five.

Together they shape, and to some degree control, most communications throughout humanity's infosphere.

Five. Just five men.

As just one small corner, consider:

Modern media is largely supported by advertising. 70% of all online ad money goes to two companies, Google and Facebook. Two. Just Two.

Literally EVERYTHING else in the online world supported by ads has to survive by subdividing the remaining 30%. Everything. Thousands of news and media orgs, millions of blogs and apps, billions of pages.

And that's just commerce. How many times do we need to read in the papers about yet another of the Big Five either supporting despotic regimes, or partnering with middlemen whose despot clients seek to undermine democracies? The list of those affected is long, and growing right now even as I type this: Georgia, Ukraine, US, Brexit, France, and dozens more across every continent on the planet but Antarctica, using digital media to disseminate disinformation.

Do you trust that five men can enjoy unprecedented power over the flow of commerce and ideas and somehow keep your best interests in mind, or the interests of the other 7.8 billion people?

This week four out of those five were invited to answer questions about commerce and control by a thankfully-for-them-largely-out-of-touch Congress:

"What a Trove of Emails From Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google Could Mean for Potential Antitrust Cases"

Maybe this is all just how it's supposed to be. Maybe this is what the dream of success is supposed to be about, and it's just whiny malcontents who don't get it.

Or maybe it's time for new thinking in response to new circumstances.

How long was it between the dawn of the petroleum era and the antitrust moves against Standard Oil? Sometimes it takes a while for regulatory ideas to catch up with trends...

 Richard Gaskin
 Fourth World Systems
 Software Design and Development for the Desktop, Mobile, and the Web

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