The Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Lina Khan, the young progressive who helped launch a reckoning amongst antitrust scholars and enforcers, in a 69-28 vote, reported The New York Times.
At 32, Khan will become the youngest commissioner ever confirmed to the agency. Her confirmation also signals a bipartisan desire to impose more regulations on Big Tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, and Apple. Khan received the support of several Republicans, including Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (Republican – Mississippi), who participated in her confirmation hearing.
According to the NYT, her appointment was a victory for progressive activists who want Mr. Biden to take a hard line against big companies. He also gave a White House job to Tim Wu, a law professor who has criticized the power of the tech giants.
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.