US President Biden Names Lina Khan As FTC Chair

President Biden named Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the White House announced on Tuesday, June 15, reported the New York Times.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted across party lines, 69 to 28, to confirm Ms. Khan as a commissioner. The president may name any commissioner to lead the agency, which investigates antitrust violations, deceptive trade practices and data privacy lapses in Silicon Valley and throughout corporate America.

Ms. Khan, 32, was sworn in on Tuesday, making her the youngest chair in the FTC’s history. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect the public from corporate abuse,” she said in a statement.

In her new role, Ms. Khan will lead efforts to regulate the kind of behavior highlighted for years by critics of Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Apple. She told a Senate committee in April that she was worried about the way tech companies could use their power to dominate new markets. The agency is investigating Amazon, which Ms. Khan has been highly critical of, and filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook last year.

Khan became a well-known figure in antitrust circles after writing “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” for the Yale Law Review in 2017, while a student at the university. The paper made the case for using a different framework for evaluating competitive harm than the popular consumer welfare standard. That standard essentially says that antitrust law violations can be determined based on harm to consumers, which is often measured based on prices.

In the years since, Khan has become a recognized name among those in the field and a noted figure among progressives eager to see more expansive enforcement of antitrust laws. She participated in the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, helping to compile the report from Democratic staff that found each held monopoly power.

As a commissioner, Khan will be tasked with voting on enforcement matters in areas of both competition and consumer protection. That means she will also have to deal with questions of whether companies have effectively secured their customers’ data or misled them with deceptive marketing or so-called dark patterns that can influence users’ choices online through calculated designs.

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