The news: President Joe Biden on Monday announced his intent to nominate Lina Khan as FTC commissioner.
Who is Lina Khan? She is an associate professor of law at Columbia Law School and an antitrust expert. Khan was previously counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on antitrust. She made headlines for her 2017 article “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” that laid out why “Amazon’s business strategies and current market dominance pose anticompetitive concerns that the consumer welfare framework in antitrust fails to recognize.” The New York Times in 2018 described her as “Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist.”
Why it matters: Khan’s nomination shows that the Biden administration will continue and perhaps increase the ongoing antitrust scrutiny on tech giants including Amazon. Tim Wu, another Big Tech critic who invented the term “net neutrality,” is also joining the administration.
Efforts to rein in the tech industry has gained momentum over the past few years, with the House of Representatives, Department of Justice, federal regulatory agencies, and several states launching inquiries into the power that companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google wield.
The U.S. House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee filed a report in October on competition in digital markets, detailing the ways in which Apple, Facebook, Google and Amazon capitalize on and allegedly abuse their market power to benefit themselves.
Seattle-based Amazon, which has yet to face formal U.S. antitrust charges, slammed the House report as fundamentally flawed, saying it was based upon “fringe notions” about antitrust law and policy.
Though the House Judiciary report recommends updating antitrust law for the digital age, it still isn’t clear how and when Congress will take up the mantle of tech oversight.