Biden nominates tech critic Lina Khan to FTC

Portrait of Lina Khan, author of the Yale Law Journal article, “The Amazon Antitrust Paradox,” which has been read far more than any other law article. Khan was photographed at her home in Larchmont, New York, on July 7, 2017.

The Washington Post | The Washington Post | fake images

Lina Khan, the prominent technology critic whose examination of the antitrust case against Amazon sparked a settling of scores among law enforcement officials, is the choice of President Joe Biden to become commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, the House announced. Blanca on Monday.

If confirmed, Khan could vote in important antitrust and consumer protection cases at the FTC. That could include a decision on whether to file an antitrust lawsuit against Amazon, which it has allegedly been investigating, as well as whether to block acquisitions of large companies.

The selection has already been roundly hailed by progressives who see Khan as the kind of enforcer who could hold back the tech giants that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle believe have abused their power. It builds on Biden’s decision to hire another prominent advocate for the app, Tim Wu, to work on technology and competition policy at the National Economic Council.

Khan is widely praised in progressive circles for her antitrust fellowship, which has focused on tech companies in particular. As a law student at Yale University in 2017, he wrote a viral note titled “The Amazon Antitrust Paradox,” which challenged the consumer welfare-centric approach that had dominated antitrust enforcement for years. Most recently, he has taught antitrust law at Columbia University.

In his 2017 note, Khan argued that a broader interpretation of antitrust laws should be used to properly assess a digital platform like Amazon, which can act as a gatekeeper to a marketplace. She wrote that platforms could engage in a predatory pricing practice, for example, which would appear to benefit consumers by lowering prices, but would actually eliminate legitimate competitors who might innovate more.

She also played a key role in crafting the sizable report detailing the alleged anti-competitive behaviors of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google while working for the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust. Khan primarily worked on the Google section of the report. The Democratic proposal offered sweeping reforms to antitrust laws that would make it harder for tech giants to buy smaller companies, among other suggestions.

While lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have been pushing for stricter enforcement of antitrust laws against tech companies, Khan’s nomination could still face some headwinds. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, criticized Khan’s youth and experience in a statement after Politico reported earlier this month on his selection.

“Ms. Khan certainly has a promising career ahead of her, but less than four years from law school, she lacks the experience to play such an important role as an FTC commissioner,” Lee said. “Her views on antitrust enforcement are also totally out of step with a prudent approach to the law. Nominating Ms. Khan would indicate that President Biden intends to put ideology and politics ahead of enforcement. competent in antitrust laws, which would be very disappointing at a time when it is absolutely critical that we have strong and effective leadership in enforcement agencies. This time is far too important for our antitrust officers to learn on the job. “

If confirmed, Khan would join incumbent and Democratic Commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter and Republican Commissioners Noah Phillips and Christine Wilson. That would leave Biden with one more commissioner position to fill to fill out the agency’s five-member panel, after he nominated incumbent Democratic commissioner Rohit Chopra to head the Office of Consumer Financial Protection.

Sarah Miller, executive director of the antitrust group American Economic Liberties Project, called Khan “an extraordinary choice for the Federal Trade Commission.”

But, he added, Biden must continue to nominate strong antitrust officers in the FTC and in the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.

Khan would also be tasked with weighing in on consumer protection cases taken up by the FTC. In recent years, such cases have included the FTC’s $ 5 billion settlement with Facebook over its privacy policies and a $ 170 million fine against YouTube for allegedly violating children’s privacy protections.

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