Biden to Tap Antitrust Scholar Lina Khan for FTC, Politico Says

Photographer: An Rong Xu/Washington Post/Getty Images

President Joe Biden plans to nominate Lina Khan, a Columbia Law School professor who specializes in antitrust law, to serve as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, Politico reported Tuesday.

The pick marks the latest signal that Biden is preparing to square off against the technology industry’s biggest companies. The White House declined to comment Tuesday on the matter.

Khan, whose research focuses on technology markets, previously worked as an aide to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra as well as for the New America Foundation and its spin-off, the Open Markets Institute. In a 2017 article for the Yale Law Journal titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” she argued that current U.S. antitrust law insufficiently counters the anti-competitive effects of Amazon-type, platform-based business models.

Khan also served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, which conducted a 16-month investigation into tech companies and determined that the biggest internet platforms have all abused their gatekeeper power over the digital economy. The panel is preparing to introduce legislation to reform antitrust laws.

The committee’s report recommended a series of far-reaching antitrust reforms, including a measure that would prohibit a dominant tech platform from operating in competition with the firms dependent on it — much the way banking laws once barred large lenders from acquiring insurers, real estate firms, and other non-banking companies. The committee also recommended restrictions on acquisitions by dominant firms.

Khan’s selection follows the March 5 announcement that Biden would tap another Columbia law professor, Timothy Wu, to join the National Economic Council as a special assistant on technology and competition policy.

Wu has been an outspoken advocate for aggressive antitrust enforcement against U.S. technology giants. His appointment elevates to a senior position in the administration a leading antitrust expert, favored by progressives, who has assailed the power of dominant tech companies like Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc. Both companies were sued by U.S. antitrust enforcers last year for allegedly abusing their monopoly power.

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