U.S. Senate confirms Big Tech critic Lina Khan to FTC

WASHINGTON, June 15 (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday to confirm Lina Khan, an antitrust researcher who has focused her work on Big Tech’s immense market power, to be a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission.

Khan, who teaches at Columbia Law School, is respected by progressive antitrust thinkers, who have pushed for tougher antitrust laws or at least tougher enforcement of existing law.

She was confirmed with strong bipartisan support on a vote of 69 to 28.

She said on Twitter that she was “grateful” for confirmation and looking forward to “serving the American public.”

Khan was on the staff of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, and helped write a massive report that sharply criticized Amazon Inc, Apple Inc, Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc for allegedly abusing their dominance.

Her nomination followed on the heels of the selection of fellow progressive and Big Tech critic Tim Wu to join the National Economic Council.

Khan’s nomination comes as the federal government and groups of states have an array of lawsuits and investigations into Big Tech companies. The FTC has sued Facebook and is investigating Amazon. The Justice Department has sued Google.

In 2017, she wrote a highly regarded article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” for the Yale Law Journal which argued that the traditional antitrust focus on price was inadequate to identify antitrust harms done by Amazon.

In addition to antitrust, the FTC investigates allegations of deceptive advertising.

On that front, Khan will join an agency which is painfully adapting to a unanimous Supreme Court ruling from April which said the agency could not use a particular part of its statute, 13(b), to demand consumers get restitution from deceptive companies but can only ask for an injunction. Congress is considering a legislative fix.

Khan previously worked at the FTC as a legal adviser to Commissioner Rohit Chopra, Biden’s pick to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Reporting by Diane Bartz and Richard Cowan; Editing by Richard Chang)