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What you need to know about Lina Khan, the youngest president of the Federal Trade Commission


Lina Khan made history earlier this week when she was sworn in as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and became the youngest person to hold the most senior position in the agency responsible for making enforce antitrust laws and protect consumers.

While the 32-year-old Columbia Law School professor may not be a household name, she has established a reputation in her field as a fierce critic of Big Tech domination. Now that she’s shifting from exploding tech or e-commerce companies into editorials and academic papers to overseeing potential industry regulations, many are speculating on what her new role could mean for an industry largely left without. be disturbed by lawmakers as its size and influence has erupted.

Khan called it “a tremendous honor” to be chosen to lead the FTC in a statement, saying she looked forward to “working with my colleagues to protect the public from corporate abuse.”

She was appointed by President Joe Biden in March and was sworn in on Tuesday, just hours after a 69-28 confirmation from the Senate. His mandate lasts until September 25, 2024.

“Over the past decade, I have focused on studying and investigating the markets of our economy and reviewing laws that allow for honest and fair competition,” Khan said in prepared remarks for his nomination hearing before lawmakers last April.

She said she began her work as a journalist and political analyst, documenting the state of competition in a myriad of industries and tasked with uncovering “the abusive business practices that excessive market concentration can allow.” .

“I’ve spent years studying markets ranging from chicken farming and airlines to aluminum and book publishing, and I’ve learned from entrepreneurs and small businesses the barriers they face. faced, ”Khan added. “This work has taught me the importance of fair competition and the critical role antitrust laws play in fostering business dynamism and promoting widespread prosperity.”

As a lawyer, she said she focused on the history of America’s anti-monopoly laws. His scholarship in this area, such as his publication in the Yale Law Journal “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”, has been widely cited. His work has also been published in the Harvard Law Review, the Columbia Law Review and the University of Chicago Law Review.

Most recently, Khan worked in government as legal advisor to the House Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on antitrust, commercial and administrative law. In this role, she helped produce a scathing 450-page report on the state of competition in the digital economy that was the result of a 16-month investigation by the subcommittee and included hearings with titans industry leaders such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The report, which names Khan as a contributor, claimed that a handful of tech companies “that were once rambling and neglected startups” have “become the kind of monopolies we last saw in the era. oil barons and railroad tycoons ”.

During his nomination hearing, Khan said that the continuation of this investigation “underscored the important work that authorities and lawmakers must do to ensure that long-standing laws keep pace with new technologies and reflect the realities current commercial “.

Khan’s rise to the head of the FTC has been widely greeted by the silence of the private sector, but hailed by lawmakers and advocates.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Said in a statement earlier this week that Khan’s new post was “tremendous news” and an opportunity for change.

“Lina brings deep knowledge and expertise to this role and will be a fearless champion for consumers,” said the former Democratic presidential candidate. “Giant tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon deserve the scrutiny they face, and consolidation is choking off competition in US industries.”

With Khan’s appointment, Warren added, “We have a huge opportunity to make great structural changes by reviving the enforcement of antitrust laws and fighting the monopolies that threaten our economy, our society and our democracy.”

Big Tech’s power has angered lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said at Khan’s nomination hearing in April that he was eager to work with. it.

“I think the commission can do a lot more to ensure the transparency of Big Tech, which is currently incredibly opaque,” ​​Cruz added at the time.

Alex Harman, of the nonprofit consumer rights group Public Citizen, said the “crushing bipartisan vote” for Khan “spoke both of her qualifications that made her the ideal candidate for the election. FTC and the recognition by both sides that has concentrated corporate power is a crisis that must be addressed urgently. “

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