Economy & Business

Biden Names Big Tech Opponent Chair of Federal Trade Commission

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testifies before a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on “Online Platforms and Market Power” on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 29, 2020. (Graeme Jennings/Pool via Reuters)

President Biden has appointed Lina Khan, an outspoken opponent of tech giants, as the chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

Two people familiar with the plan revealed the news to The New York Times. One of the individuals said that a formal public announcement will likely be made Tuesday. Khan was confirmed by the Senate earlier in the day in a 69-28 vote, indicating a brief moment of bipartisanship in a split chamber. The agency is responsible for anti-trust enforcement, consumer protection promotion, and overseeing mergers, among others.

An FTC with Khan at the helm could take more aggressive action in holding tech companies and digital markets accountable for anti-trust violations. Her nomination reflects a growing agreement and mutual understanding between both parties that tech mammoths like Google and Apple should not go unchecked and unregulated.

A few days before Khan’s confirmation, House Democrats introduced a number of antitrust bills, with Republican co-sponsors, targeting the monopolistic and predatory activity of big tech companies.

Khan said during her confirmation hearing, “I think it’s clear that in some instances the agencies have been a little slow to catch up to the underlying business realities and the empirical realities of how these markets work.”

“At the very least, ensuring that the agencies are doing everything they can to keep pace is going to be important,” she continued.

Khan was first recognized for her 2017 paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which focused specifically on Amazon, concluding that the current antitrust framework on the books does not properly target the harmful anti-competitive threats posed by big tech dominance.

She also helped compile the House Antitrust Report, released last year, which accused Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon of engaging in anti-competitive behavior and urged Congress to overhaul antitrust legislation and pass updated versions. The report alleged, “To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.”

It is still unclear who Biden will nominate to lead the Department of Justice’s antitrust division, which regulates the industry.

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