Biden to nominate tech critic Lina Khan as an FTC commissioner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden intends to nominate Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher who has focused her work on Big Tech’s immense market power, to be a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission, the White House said Monday.

Khan, who teaches at Columbia Law School, is highly respected by progressive antitrust thinkers, who have pushed for tougher antitrust laws or at least tougher enforcement of existing law.

Her nomination follows on the heels of the selection of fellow progressive and Big Tech critic Tim Wu to join the National Economic Council.

If confirmed, Khan will return to the FTC where she was a legal adviser to Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Biden’s pick to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Khan was on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, which wrote a massive report last year that sharply criticized the major tech companies, Amazon Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc.

The FTC works with the Justice Department to enforce antitrust law and investigates allegations of deceptive advertising.

While Senator Amy Klobuchar, who strongly favors antitrust enforcement, welcomed her nomination, NetChoice, whose members include Facebook and Google, opposed her as a “radical pick.”

“She is more interested in subjectively changing antitrust law than in analyzing and enforcing the law as it stands,” said NetChoice General Counsel Carl Szabo.

Khan’s nomination comes as the federal government and groups of states have an array of lawsuits and investigations into Big Tech companies. The FTC has sued Facebook and is investigating Amazon. The Justice Department has sued Google.

In 2017, she wrote a highly regarded article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” for the Yale Law Journal which argued that the traditional antitrust focus on price was inadequate to identify antitrust harms done by Amazon.

The FTC also assesses pharmaceutical mergers to ensure they are legal under antitrust law.

Reporting by Diane Bartz and Eric Beech; Editing by Leslie Adler, Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman