Biden to Name Antitrust Scholar Lina Khan for FTC Post

WASHINGTON—President Biden is expected to nominate Lina Khan, a critic of Big Tech’s market power, to a seat on the Federal Trade Commission, according to people familiar with the situation, in a move that could signal more aggressive application of laws to ensure competition.

Ms. Khan is a law professor at Columbia University and former Democratic staffer at the FTC and Congress. She was one of the House antitrust subcommittee staffers who wrote an October report that concluded

Amazon.com Inc.,

Apple Inc.,

Facebook Inc.,

and

Alphabet Inc.’s

Google hold significant and durable market power, resulting in “less innovation, fewer choices for consumers, and a weakened democracy.”

The White House declined to comment on the expected nomination, which was reported earlier by Politico. Ms. Khan didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Public Citizen, the advocacy group, called the expected nomination “a hopeful sign that the Biden administration intends to take a more aggressive approach,” pointing to her experience as a congressional staffer.

Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah), called Ms. Khan’s potential appointment “deeply concerning” in a statement Tuesday.

“Ms. Khan no doubt has a promising career ahead of her, but being less than four years out of law school, she lacks the experience necessary for such an important role as FTC Commissioner. Her views on antitrust enforcement are also wildly out of step with a prudent approach to the law,” he said.

Ms. Khan is among a group of progressives who have suggested farther reaching changes, such as the House report’s suggestion that Congress consider forcing companies to separate large online platforms from other business lines. Other Democrats, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), haven’t endorsed a law requiring structural separation and have instead proposed legal changes to help the government win antitrust cases.

As one of five members of the FTC, Ms. Khan would be in a position to influence policies, rulemakings and enforcement actions at an agency with authority to administer antitrust and consumer-protection laws. She won’t be able to dictate decisions, given that she is likely to be one of three members of a Democratic majority.

Ms. Khan’s nomination would mark Mr. Biden’s the second recent move elevating someone who is pressing for a more aggressive antitrust approach.

The White House on Friday named

Tim Wu,

an advocate of stricter antitrust enforcement and break-ups of large technology companies such as Facebook, to serve as special assistant to the president for technology and competition policy at the White House National Economic Council.

But like-minded Democrats said they are concerned that the Biden administration will fill out the remainder of its competition policy leadership with more moderate candidates who could let a possible reckoning for big technology companies slip by.

Ms. Khan graduated from Yale Law School in 2017. That same year, she published a widely cited law review article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” suggesting that the prevailing approach to antitrust law is ill-equipped to deal with the potential harms posed by online platforms such as Amazon.

Prior to her stints at Columbia and the House, she worked as a legal advisor to FTC Commissioner

Rohit Chopra,

who has been nominated by Mr. Biden to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Ms. Khan is being considered for a vacancy being created by the departure of the outgoing Republican chairman, Joe Simons, according to one of the people familiar with the matter. A third Democratic commissioner has yet to be named by the White House.

The White House hasn’t announced its choice for the permanent chair of the FTC or for another key role: assistant attorney general overseeing the Department of Justice’s antitrust division.

Write to Ryan Tracy at ryan.tracy@wsj.com and John D. McKinnon at john.mckinnon@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
President Biden is expected to nominate Lina Khan to a seat on the Federal Trade Commission. A headline on an earlier version of this article erroneously referred to her as Lisa Khan. (Corrected on March 9)

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Source: WSJ – US News

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