New FTC Chair Lina Khan Has Some Words for Big Tech and Amazon

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Jun. 16 2021, Published 11:24 a.m. ET

In a 68-to-29 senate vote under the Biden administration, Lina Khan has been appointed as the new chair for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), an organization in charge of enforcing the rules of the competitive marketplace. Khan was officially sworn into her role on Jun. 15 and can now start instituting the FTC's mission.

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For Khan, much of that mission rests on the monopolization held by Big Tech, especially companies like Amazon.

Lina Khan replaces Rebecca Slaughter as FTC commissioner

Khan succeeds Rebecca Slaughter in her role as FTC chair. Slaughter had more hard-hitting views on antitrust than her predecessors, many of whom focused on consumer protection from fraud rather than taking down the big guns. One of the biggest changes Slaughter made was creating a "rulemaking group" to crack down further on anti-competitive behavior.

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Khan is expected to follow in her footsteps, although more aggressively.

How Lina Khan views Amazon

In 2017, Khan published an article in the Yale Law Journal titled "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox." She targeted Amazon for predatory pricing practices and dominant market behaviors. On the e-commerce giant, she wrote, "for the vast majority of its twenty years in business, losses—not profits—were the norm." She added that "the premise of Amazon’s business model was to establish scale."

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Khan finished her lengthy report about Amazon's place in the market by saying, "Animating these critiques is not a concern about harms to consumer welfare, but the broader set of ills and hazards that a lack of competition breeds." Through this statement, it's clear that Khan is passionately against anti-competition.

Lina Khan's views of the wider Big Tech space

Khan's efforts against antitrust go beyond that publication. In 2020, she took part in a broader effort to probe the tech industry. Big players like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple were part of the picture.

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Khan is coming from a role as a Columbia Law School associate professor and plans to take aggressive action to change the tech industry landscape as we know it. While former antitrust leaders viewed competition as a way for consumers to access lower prices, Khan's view is much more nuanced.

Khan says that the modern economy is made up of large corporations enacting predatory tactics that squeeze out the small players. To her, this is illegal behavior under fair competition laws.

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How will things change under Lina Khan's FTC leadership?

Khan, who has been backed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, is expected to change the game. Whereas Big Tech companies are already pushing back on the decision, it's final and something they'll just have to adapt to (at least for the next few years).

Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL), and Facebook (FB) stocks have remained fairly steady despite the news of Khan's appointment. Capitalization in these spaces may readjust in the coming months and years as Khan launches new probes and regulations to ensure a fair market.

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