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Meet Lina Khan, big tech critic and Joe Biden's choice for FTC chair

Meet Lina Khan, big tech critic and Joe Biden's choice for FTC chair

Meet Lina Khan, big tech critic and Joe Biden's choice for FTC chair
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By CNBCTV18.com Jun 16, 2021 7:01:59 PM IST (Updated)

Lina Khan, born to Pakistani parents, was once called 'Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist' by NYT. Tech cos are a worried lot and Senator Elizabeth Warren has welcomed the appointment.

US President Joe Biden has appointed Lina Khan, a top critic of the Big Tech, to chair the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The decision, which is in line with the Biden administration’s growing effort to check the power and influence of big tech, also makes Khan the youngest commissioner in history to head the FTC.

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The 32-year-old Columbia University Law School professor is a prominent critic of the power of large technology companies. Khan, a Democrat, will hold the position till September 25, 2024.
In a tweet, Lina Khan wrote, "I’m so grateful to the Senate for my confirmation. 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 vigour and serving the American public."
Who is Lina Khan?
Lina Khan was born to Pakistani parents in London and moved to the US at the age of 11. She graduated from Williams College and Yale Law School.
Prior to becoming Chair of the FTC, Khan was an associate professor of law at Columbia Law School, where she taught and wrote about antitrust law, infrastructure industries law, and the anti-monopoly tradition.
Her scholarship on antitrust and competition policy has been published in the Columbia Law Review, Harvard Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, and Yale Law Journal.
Khan has previously served as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, was legal adviser to FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and legal director at the Open Markets Institute.
In 2018, The New York Times had called her "Amazon’s Antitrust Antagonist."
Khan is known for her unconventional proposals to counter the tech giants’ power.  In 2017, while studying law, she wrote a paper accusing Amazon of their anti-competitive practices and even went to the extent of mentioning the existing US anti-competition laws were not strong enough when it came to the e-commerce industry.
Khan was one of the authors of the panel’s report on the investigation, which accused the tech firms of abusing their roles as gatekeepers in the digital economy and in the process eroding innovation, entrepreneurship, privacy, and consumer choice. It also included a series of recommendations for reforms to antitrust laws.
With her appointment, the US administration has sent a clear message to the big tech companies to be on guard and that they will likely be regulated unlike earlier when former President Barack Obama had followed a largely hands-off policy.
The tech industry has voiced their concern with NetChoice, whose members include Amazon, Google, and Amazon, saying, “Lina Khan’s antitrust activism detracts from the Federal Trade Commission’s reputation as an impartial body that enforces the law in a non-discriminatory fashion.”
Ahead of Khan's appointment, Google and Amazon declined comment and Apple and Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who called for breaking up tech companies when she was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for US President, gave a thumbs up to her appointment.
She described it as “a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society, and our democracy.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, another moderate Democrat who has advocated for broad reforms to US competition law, said, “I think she is an out-of-the-box thinker, someone who will look at these things in the forward-looking way we need to look at tech today.”
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