US President Joe Biden Eyes Big Tech Critic for Regulatory Post: Reports

President Joe Biden plans to nominate a prominent advocate of breaking up Big Tech firms to a key regulatory post, suggesting an aggressive antitrust stance, media reports said Tuesday.

The reports said Lina Khan – a Columbia University law professor who has suggested antitrust laws could be interpreted to break up tech titans – would be named to the Federal Trade Commission, an agency with some authority over mergers and antitrust policy.

Khan’s appointment would follow the naming of Tim Wu, another Big Tech critic, to an economic advisory post in the White House.

Her appointment has not been announced but reports from Politico, the Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post cited sources as saying she was on track for the post.

Khan recently worked on a House of Representatives panel which drafted a lengthy report on large technology firms, making a case for splitting up some of the tech giants.

She also authored a 2017 paper called “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” which outlined the growing dominance of the e-commerce and tech giant.

The news comes amid a growing backlash against tech behemoths which have dominated key economic sectors and seen their influence grow during the coronavirus pandemic.

Aurelien Portuese of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a think tank which often reflects the views of the sector, expressed concern about the reports.

“Together with Tim Wu, who has recently been appointed to serve as the White House’s adviser on competition and technology policy, Lina Khan has been instrumental in bringing a populist view of antitrust to mainstream media and the general public,” Portuese said in a statement.

“Her influence gained momentum when she helped write the House Antitrust Subcommittee report on big tech companies. Khan’s antitrust populism threatens to derail traditional enforcement of antitrust laws as an engine for enhancing consumer benefits and spurring innovation.”

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