Big Tech critic Lina Khan to be named U.S. FTC chair -sources

by Reuters
Tuesday, 15 June 2021 19:51 GMT

FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing on the nomination of Former Senator Bill Nelson to be NASA administrator, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 21, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS

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Khan is respected by progressive antitrust thinkers who have pushed for tougher antitrust laws

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will name Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher who has focused on Big Tech's immense market power, to chair the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, sources said on Tuesday.

Khan, who was confirmed to the FTC as a commissioner on Tuesday with strong bipartisan support, is respected by progressive antitrust thinkers who have pushed for tougher antitrust laws or at least tougher enforcement of existing law.

Khan, who most recently taught at Columbia Law School, was on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee's antitrust panel, and helped write a massive report that sharply criticized Amazon.com Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc for allegedly abusing their dominance.

The decision to tap her followed the selection of fellow progressive and Big Tech critic Tim Wu to join the National Economic Council.

She joins the commission as the federal government and groups of states have an array of lawsuits and investigations into Big Tech companies. The FTC has sued Facebook and is investigating Amazon. The Justice Department has sued Alphabet's Google.

In 2017, she wrote a highly regarded article, "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox," for the Yale Law Journal which argued that the traditional antitrust focus on price was inadequate to identify antitrust harms done by Amazon.

In addition to antitrust, the FTC investigates allegations of deceptive advertising.

On that front, Khan will join an agency which is painfully adapting to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling from April which said the agency could not use a particular part of its statute, 13(b), to demand consumers get restitution from deceptive companies but can only ask for an injunction. Congress is considering a legislative fix.

Khan previously worked at the FTC as a legal adviser to Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Biden's pick to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

(Reporting by David Shepardson, Nandita Bose, Diane Bartz and Richard Cowan in Washington Editing by Richard Chang and Matthew Lewis)