Lina Khan Named F.T.C. Chair by Biden


President Biden has named Lina Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, according to two people with knowledge of the decision, a move that signals that the agency is likely to crack down further on the industry’s giants.

A public announcement of the decision is expected Tuesday, one of the people said.

Earlier in the day, the Senate voted 69 to 28 to confirm Ms. Khan, 32, to a seat at the agency. The commission investigates antitrust violations, deceptive trade practices and data privacy lapses in Silicon Valley.

Ms. Khan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In her new role, Ms. Khan will lead efforts to regulate the kind of behavior highlighted for years by critics of Amazon, Facebook, Google and Apple. She told a Senate committee in April that she was worried about the way tech companies could use their power to dominate new markets. She first attracted notice as a critic of Amazon. The agency is investigating the retail giant, and it filed an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook last year.

Her appointment was a victory for progressive activists who want Mr. Biden to take a hard line against big companies. He also gave a White House job to Tim Wu, a law professor who has criticized the power of the tech giants. He has yet to appoint someone to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, another top regulator of the industry.

Mr. Biden’s decision caps an unusually rapid ascent for Ms. Khan, who graduated from Yale’s law school in 2017. She was the first full-time hire at a think tank program that became the Open Markets Institute, a group of writers and researchers who helped elevate concerns about corporate consolidation into a mainstream issue in Washington.

While a law student, she wrote a paper laying out how modern antitrust laws had failed to check the power of Amazon, which attracted notice from policymakers, other lawyers and the press. She went on to work for an F.T.C. commissioner and for a House Judiciary Committee team investigating the tech giants. She joined the faculty at Columbia Law School last fall.

Her appointment was immediately hailed by many Democrats.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, chairwoman of a Senate subcommittee overseeing antitrust and a regular critic of the tech industry, said Ms. Khan’s “deep understanding of competition policy will be vital as we strengthen antitrust enforcement.”

Ms. Klobuchar noted Ms. Khan’s new role in an afternoon hearing on competition, before any official announcement from the White House.

“We need all hands on deck as we take on some of the biggest monopolies in the world,” she said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said, “With Chair Khan at the helm, we have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society and our democracy.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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