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Lina Khan, Biden’s Eyes on Big Tech

The 32-year-old became the youngest person to lead the Federal Trade Commission when the president appointed her in June.
Lina Khan, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Lina Khan, commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

Source: U.S Federal State Commission

Khan published a paper in 2017 about Inc. that she’d written as a student at Yale Law School. Titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” the article argued that the traditional framework for antitrust enforcement was inadequate to deal with today’s tech giants. It was a contrarian attack on mainstream thinking, and it made Khan a radical in the eyes of regulators and Big Law.

Today she’s on the inside. Khan is responsible for helping carry out one of Biden’s sweeping economic policy prescriptions: reining in the power of companies the administration says have benefited from unchecked consolidation, to the detriment of economic growth and workers. Khan, who’s on leave as an associate professor at Columbia Law School, is putting that goal into action. In July she and her two fellow Democrats on the commission voted to rescind an Obama-era policy that limited the agency’s authority in bringing antitrust cases. The next month, seeking to salvage a landmark monopoly lawsuit against Facebook Inc. that a federal judge had dismissed earlier this summer, Khan filed a new complaint against the company. The case seeks to break up Facebook (now Meta Platforms Inc.) by splitting off Instagram and WhatsApp. If the FTC wins, it would be historic: The government hasn’t broken up a monopoly since AT&T’s “Ma Bell” telephone system in the early 1980s.