Silicon Valley can start to worry. President Joe Biden will appoint lawyer Lina Khan, known for her hostility to the monopolies of tech giants, to the American competition authority (FTC), several American media reported on Tuesday. If confirmed, this appointment would be a further sign of the new administration’s willingness to engage in a standoff with Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple over practices deemed anti-competitive.
A law professor at Columbia University, Lina Khan was recently part of a team of researchers tasked with producing a report for the House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee. This working group released a voluminous dossier last October, accusing the Gafa (Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple) of monopolies and abuse of a dominant position in their respective sectors.
“Amazon’s antitrust paradox”
Lina Khan, 32, has also served as legal counsel to Rohit Chopra, an FTC commissioner Mr Biden appointed to head the Financial Industry Consumer Protection Agency (CFPB). This scholar first became known in the academic world in 2017, while she was still a student, by publishing an article in the Yale law journal entitled “The Amazon Antitrust Paradox”.
She considered that the American legislative arsenal was insufficient to fight against the monopolistic practices of groups like the giant of online commerce. To join the five-member FTC (with a maximum of three members from the same political party), Lina Khan will need to be approved by the Senate.
Tim Wu counselor Joe Biden
On Friday, Tim Wu, also a professor at Columbia and a defender of much stricter anti-concentration laws to frame the power of the Gafa, announced to join the prestigious National Economic Council (NEC) of the White House.
By choosing such profiles, the Biden administration sends a message of firmness to the American technological pillars, already targeted by multiple investigations and prosecutions on the part of states, Congress, the Department of Justice and the FTC.