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US to nominate prominent antitrust critic for vital regulatory post

Lina Khan was an aide to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, which recently called for breaking up of big tech companies after a year-long investigation.Premium
Lina Khan was an aide to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, which recently called for breaking up of big tech companies after a year-long investigation.

  • The appointment of Lina Khan as the commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission is a major step at a time when the US government is preparing to take on tech giant Google and Facebook in landmark legal battles

US President Joe Biden has announced that he intends to nominate prominent Big Tech critic Lina Khan as the commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Khan is the author of an article titled Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox published in the Yale Law Journal in 2017, and has been known to be a prominent leader of antitrust voices against Big Tech. She was also an aide to the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, which recently called for breaking up of big tech companies after a year-long investigation.

The appointment is a major step at a time when the US government is preparing to take on tech giant Google and Facebook in landmark legal battles. The Biden government had earlier nominated Tim Wu, a Columbia law professor who coined the term “net neutrality", for the country’s National Economic Council. Wu, too, is a prominent voice in the antitrust movement against tech giants.

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The US FTC, which oversees antitrust law in the country, had sued social media giant Facebook in December last year, in what is seen as a historic antitrust case. The states and the FTC have accused Facebook of stifling competition to “maintain its monopoly" and called for a “roll back" of Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The US justice department has also filed a case against Google, accusing it of antitrust behaviour with digital advertising and search.

Facebook, on 11 March, challenged the FTC’s case and called it “nonsensical" in its complaint. The social media giant has asked a judge to throw out the case instead. “The FTC has not alleged facts amounting to a plausible antitrust case. The FTC’s case against Facebook ignores the reality of the dynamic, intensely competitive high-tech industry in which Facebook operates," the company said in a blog post. It claimed that the FTC hasn’t “plausibly alleged unlawful exclusionary conduct" and has failed to establish how Facebook is a monopoly power.

The cases against Google and Facebook are expected to set the ball rolling on Big Tech regulations not only in the US but worldwide.

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