President Joe Biden on Monday picked prominent tech industry critic Lina Khan to join the Federal Trade Commission, in a major win for progressive Democrats who critiqued the agency for not aggressively pursuing major Silicon Valley platforms on antitrust and privacy issues.
Key context: Khan will be the one of three Democratic commissioners at the agency, which oversees privacy, data security and some antitrust enforcement, at a time when the FTC has faced sharp criticism for not doing enough to police major tech firms like Google and Facebook over their privacy practices and past mergers.
Biden still needs to fill the remaining Democratic slot, which will play a crucial role in deciding the agency’s approach to the tech industry.
Khan’s bona fides: A professor at Columbia Law School since last year, Khan served as an aide to the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee’s probe into antitrust and major tech platforms including Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. As part of the 16-month investigation, Khan honed in on Google’s conduct in the online search market, including its control over apps through its Android smartphone operating, mapping through the popular Google Maps and Waze products, and digital advertising.
Before her tenure with the antitrust panel, she was a fellow at the FTC for Democratic Commissioner Rohit Chopra, with whom she argued for the agency to adopt rules that would more clearly spell out when companies violate competition law.
She also worked as director of legal policy at the anti-monopoly group Open Markets Institute.