Reports suggest that President Biden may nominate Columbia Law School scholar Lina Khan for a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) position
Big tech companies in the US may see trouble on the horizon, with reports suggesting that President Biden is lining up antitrust scholar Lina Khan for an FTC position.
The FBI is currently conducting a background check on Khan, according to sources, while others familiar with the matter said that the President was likely to nominate Khan for the role.
Khan is a professor at Colombia Law School whose research focuses primarily on technology markets and has been vocally critical of US antitrust laws which have allowed platform-based business models like Amazon to grow to monolithic proportions.
Last year, Khan was part of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel which conducted a 16-month investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet. The report which the panel published following the investigation was broadly critical of each of these major companies, arguing that they had abused the nature of their positions as gatekeepers of the digital economy, and recommending broad antitrust reforms to curb their power.
Perhaps the most significant reform recommended was that dominant tech platforms be prohibited from operating in competition with firms dependent upon it.
Khan’s selection would not be the first appointment new President Biden has made to indicate a shifting attitude towards big tech. Earlier this month, Columbia law professor Timothy Wu was appointed as a special assistant on technology and competition policy for the National Economic Council. An outspoken advocate for aggressive antitrust enforcement, Wu is likely to be foreceful in seeking greater regulation of major tech firms.
This duo of appointments for antitrust hard-liners could maker a major change in the US tech industry landscape, with the giant corporations potentially set to lose some of the competitive freedoms they currently enjoy. Both Facebook and Google were notably sued by the US government last year for abusing their market position, with antitrust enforcers also currently investigating Apple and Amazon.
The US is not alone in taking stronger stance against the dominating impact of the US tech giants. In December, the EU revealed plans to introduce new laws – the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act – the latter of which hopes to limit the tech giants from gaining unfair advantages over their competition via their elevated market position.
In the UK, the Competition and Markets Authority have announced similar restrictions.
Is the tide turning for big tech?
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