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Big Tech critic Lina Khan confirmed as FTC chairwoman

Promises to 'safeguard fair competition and protect consumers, workers, and honest businesses ... with vigor'

US President Joe Biden has successfully installed Lina Khan, a top legal scholar and an outspoken critic of Big Tech, as the new chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission.

The Biden administration made it clear it wants to crack down on the monopolistic power held by mega-corps when he nominated Khan to lead America's trade watchdog in March. Now, the Senate has voted 69-28 in favor of her nomination on Tuesday. The bipartisan support signals Democrats and Republicans support a tough approach to taking on Big Tech.

Khan, right now an associate law professor at Columbia Law School, has close ties with the FTC. She previously worked there as a legal fellow in 2018 under Commissioner Rohit Chopra. She also counselled the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law in 2019, where she led its investigation into digital markets.

“I’m so grateful to the Senate for my confirmation,” she said. “Congress created the FTC to safeguard fair competition and protect consumers, workers, and honest businesses from unfair & deceptive practices. I look forward to upholding this mission with vigor and serving the American public.”

Her career took off after she published a seminal paper in 2017 titled Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox while she was a student at Yale University. She argued that today's anti-competition laws are ill equipped to deal with giant e-commerce platforms, and explained why Amazon has been able to escape antitrust scrutiny and balloon to the size it is today.

All in all, Khan’s confirmation is more bad news for internet monopolists. On top of the ongoing probes by the Department of Justice, and the new slew of law bills proposing to ban mergers and acquisitions of large companies and reform antitrust laws, no-nonsense leadership from America's top trade regulator is the last thing Big Tech wants right now.

“The overwhelming support in the Senate for Lina Khan’s nomination to serve on the Federal Trade Commission is a big win for fair competition in our country,” Chopra said in a statement [PDF].

"There is a growing consensus that the FTC must turn the page on the failed policies spanning multiple administrations. Lina has an extraordinary record of achievement, and she will be instrumental in helping the Commission chart a new course grounded in rigor and reality.” ®

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