US President Joe Biden has called on Lina Khan, a leading power critic of big tech companies, to chair the Federal Trade Commission, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The decision raises the Professor at Columbia University Law School, 32 to a powerful antitrust role in the Biden administration, as lawmakers in Congress swear to crack down on the anti-competitive behavior of the largest American technology groups.
Khan’s nomination as FTC chairman came the same day it was confirmed by the US Senate for a seat on the commission of five members.
“Congress created the FTC to preserve fair competition and protect honest consumers, workers and businesses from unfair and deceptive practices. I look forward to pursuing this mission vigorously and serving the American public, ”she wrote in a tweet Tuesday.
Khan is one of the most renowned US academics for criticizing major US tech companies, from Amazon to Facebook and Google, for abusing their market power, and has demanded government action to restrain them.
Khan’s 2017 article, “Amazon’s antitrust paradoxAimed at the company’s growing power, particularly its role as both a logistics provider and a competitor to the millions of small businesses that use Amazon to sell merchandise.
He concluded that mainstream antitrust thinking – that lower prices are net good for consumers – was outdated and failed to take into account the competing forces of the modern economy.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Khan’s appointment. The company maintained that it faces competition in every industry in which it operates, suggesting that it represents a small percentage of overall retail.
Khan also served as an adviser to the House Judiciary Committee during its antitrust investigation of large tech companies. The committee’s 449-page report, published last year, criticized large US tech groups and advised Congress to introduce legislation that, among other measures, would make it harder for large companies to acquire promising challengers.
Biden’s decision to give Khan the presidency of the FTC – which will make her one of the youngest federal agency heads – sends a signal of his administration’s intention to take a more aggressive stance towards Big Tech. The US president also recently chose Wu team, another prominent Silicon Valley critic at Columbia Law School, for being a White House special advisor on competition policy.
Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, applauded Biden’s decision to face the “power of runaway companies.”
“As commissioner, Khan will take on corporate barons in Silicon Valley and across our economy,” said Alex Harman, competition policy advocate for Public Citizen, in an emailed statement.
“Greedy and abusive businesses should know that the FTC will no longer turn a blind eye as they will accumulate power to harm consumers, treat competitors unfairly and take advantage of workers. “
Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts who called for the break-up of Big Tech groups, applauded the nomination.
“The designation by the Biden administration of @linamkhan as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission is great news. Lina brings deep knowledge and expertise to this role and will be a fearless champion for consumers, ”Warren tweeted.
As markets closed on Tuesday, stock prices for Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet and Apple were mostly unchanged.
Facebook declined to comment on Khan’s appointment. Alphabet and Apple did not immediately return requests for comment.
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