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Biden Nominates Tech Critic Lina Khan As FTC Commissioner

Biden Nominates Tech Critic Lina Khan As FTC Commissioner

President Joe Biden has nominated legal scholar and technology industry critic Lina Khan to become the next commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission. 

What Happened: London-born Khan first gained national prominence in 2017 as a Yale University law student when she authored the paper “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” for the school’s law journal.

The article argued that the nation’s largest technology companies — most notably, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) — were able to take advantage of a federal regulatory framework that shielded them from antitrust scrutiny, enabling the companies to dominate smaller competition.

In a 2018 interview with The New York Times, Khan insisted that she was not a critic of technology companies, but rather she was wary of laws that allowed them to steamroll the competition.

“Amazon is not the problem — the state of the law is the problem, and Amazon depicts that in an elegant way,” she said. “This is a moment in time that invites a movement. It’s bigger than antitrust, bigger than Big Tech. It’s about whether the laws serve democratic ends.”

After graduating from Yale, Khan worked as served as legal director at the Open Markets Institute think-tank. She later worked as a legal fellow for Rohit Chopra during his tenure as FTC Commissioner — he's been nominated by Biden to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, where she took a leadership role in a congressional investigation into digital markets.

Khan is an associate professor of law at Columbia University. Her nomination will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Related Link: Amazon Faces Investigations In Connecticut Over Anti-Competitive Practices In E-books Business

Why It Matters: Khan’s nomination follows the appointment of another Columbia law professor, Tim Wu, to the Biden administration’s National Economic Council, where he focuses on technology and competition policy.

Wu is credited with inventing the term “net neutrality” and has argued for antitrust regulation in relation to technology companies.

The FTC is now run by Acting Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter, a former chief counsel to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Slaughter's FTC biography details how she has been “outspoken about the growing threats to competition and the broad abuse of consumers’ data,” and also highlights how she believes the "FTC’s dual missions of promoting competition and protecting consumers are interconnected and complementary."

Related Link: FTC Orders Social Media Giants To Share Information On Data Collection Policies

Photo of Lina Khan courtesy of Columbia University Law School. 


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