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Biden Appoints Big Tech Critic Lina Khan As FTC Chair: Report

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Joe Biden has appointed 32-year-old Columbia University Law School professor and a prominent Big Tech critic Lina Khan as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chair, insinuating aggressive enforcement of U.S. antitrust and consumer-protection laws, the Financial Times reported.

What Happened: Khan led the movement that sought corporate dominance and merger restraint that had eroded competition, the Wall Street Journal reports. She endorsed the blocking of more mergers, aggressively attacked monopolistic practices, and sought the breaking up some of America’s largest companies.

Acting chair Rebecca Slaughter will remain on the board as a commissioner.

The FTC dissected proposed corporate mergers and various business practices to determine whether they illegally repressed marketplace competition. The commission also has a broad consumer protection mission. The FTC could also review Amazon’s proposed acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM.

Why It Matters: Khan is one of the most renowned American scholars to criticize large U.S. technology companies, like Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB), and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google, for market power abuse.

Khan’s 2017 paper “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” focused on the corporation’s growing power as both logistics provider and competitor to the millions of smaller businesses that use Amazon to sell goods. The paper debated that lower prices are not suitable for consumers, which did not consider the conflicting forces in the modern economy.

Amazon acknowledged competition from every sector operated and maintained that it represented a smaller percentage of overall retail.

Khan also served as counsel to the House judiciary committee during its tech antitrust investigations. The committee’s 2020 report criticized the big tech groups and sought stricter legislation for big tech companies.

Biden also recently selected another prominent critic of Silicon Valley at Columbia Law School, Tim Wu, as a special White House adviser on competition policy.

The tech backers believed that the antitrust crackdown will reduce economies of scale for the consumers, thwart innovation following lesser efficient and innovative companies’ power to seek legal protection against aggressive yet beneficial competition.

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