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U.S. Senate confirms Google critic Kanter to head Justice Dept Antitrust Division

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The U.S. Capitol dome is seen in Washington, U.S., December 17, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

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WASHINGTON, Nov 16 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Google critic Jonathan Kanter, who was backed by progressives, to head the Justice Department's Antitrust Division.

In his confirmation hearing, Kanter pledged to enforce antitrust law in agriculture, pharmaceuticals and the labor market, as well as in Big Tech. read more

The Senate confirmed him on a vote of 68 to 29.

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Kanter is the third of three people, who all have tech expertise and were backed by progressives, to be chosen for key antitrust posts. The other two were Tim Wu for the National Economic Council and Lina Khan as chair of the Federal Trade Commission.

Kanter takes the reins of the Justice Department's Antitrust Division at a time of calls for tougher enforcement and bipartisan criticism of internet platforms like Facebook Inc (FB.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Apple Inc (AAPL.O). The companies have vigorously denied any wrongdoing.

Kanter has spent years representing rivals of Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) Google, which the Justice Department sued last year alleging that it broke antitrust law in seeking to hobble search engine rivals. The government is preparing to file a second lawsuit focused on the company's digital advertising business. Google has also denied wrongdoing.

The department is also investigating Apple for alleged violations of antitrust law.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission, which share the work of enforcing antitrust law, have seen a surge in deals in the past year. read more

In the past year, the department also sued to stop Penguin Random House's $2.2 billion deal for Simon & Schuster and to halt a partnership between American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) and JetBlue Airways Corp (JBLU.O). It also stopped a deal between Aon Plc (AON.N) and Willis Towers Watson Plc . read more

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Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington Editing by Matthew Lewis

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