Lina Khan, chair of the US Federal Trade Commission, said the agency will not back down in the face of intimidation from big tech companies.
Lina Khan’s comments came during an exclusive interview with CNBC, where she stated that the FTC would not back down in the face of intimidation from better-resourced opponents.
Khan has personally faced opposition from Amazon and Facebook in particular, who have asked that she step down on antitrust matters relating to their business.
Khan said her agency has a duty to look into cases of potentially illegal conduct.
When asked about antitrust regulation and data privacy in an interview with CNBC, FTC Chair Lina Khan said the FTC would not back down in the face of intimidation from opponents with “significant resources”.
Khan said it takes “courage” to confront companies with enormous power, particularly in the face of the FTC’s resource challenges that are forcing them to narrow their enforcement capabilities.
“We’re trying to show not only these companies, but the country, that we’re not going to hold back because these companies are showing some muscle or trying to intimidate us,” Khan told CNBC reporters Andrew Ross Sorkin and Kara Swisher.
Under her leadership, the FTC has taken steps to show its power against big business, with the agency filing an amended complaint against Facebook over antitrust charges after an earlier complaint was dismissed, this time allowing it to come forward.
Faced with merger issues, the FTC has also indicated that it will impose tougher penalties on companies seeking mergers that reduce competition.
Khan has personally faced opposition from Amazon and Facebook in particular, which have asked that she step aside in antitrust cases related to their business. They argue that Khan’s previous statements and her work at the Open Markets Institute and the House Judiciary Subcommittee on technology companies investigating antitrust, show that she has preconceived views on the two companies that may conflict with the responsibilities the position requires.
Khan made a name for herself in academia with her Yale Law Journal 2017 article, Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, which advocated a more comprehensive interpretation of antitrust laws as they apply to digital markets.
Khan attributed the strength of some of these companies to the standards they were accustomed to in the past, as they had not previously faced strict procedures.
Khan declined to throw her weight behind any particular antitrust reform bills being considered in Congress, but she supported giving the agency additional resources and generally welcomed Congress’ actions to reduce some of the obstacles law enforcement must consider when bringing cases.
“We have to make very difficult choices on any multi-billion dollar deals, but we will ensure that we investigate them closely, even if there are undesirable outcomes from those choices,” Khan said.