Protocol: The next tech antitrust era is beginning in earnest
For years, politicians have demanded for someone, anyone, to do something about antitrust and Big Tech. Now, a whole lot is suddenly poised to begin.
Lawmakers in the House unveiled a dramatic proposed expansion of the antitrust laws on Friday. At the same time, the Senate appears to be gearing up to officially vote on Lina Khan, President Joe Biden’s nominee to the Federal Trade Commission, for a post enforcing U.S. antitrust laws. Khan has long pushed for strong antitrust enforcement and reform, particularly when it comes to major tech firms such as Amazon.
The action in both chambers is the culmination of years of dimming views of Big Tech on both sides of the aisle — not only over competition, but also in how companies approach privacy, work with China or affect elections — following a long period when Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google could rely on Washington to view them as the height of benevolent innovation.
Khan made a blockbuster appearance on the antitrust scene while still a law student with her 2017 article on Amazon in the Yale Law Journal. She is now closely identified with the idea that competition enforcers lost sight of their original purpose in the late 1970s and let digital giants grow unchecked. Her views have become representative of the key beliefs of the new era.
“President Biden’s choice to nominate Lina Khan demonstrated that Democrats understand the imperative of turning the page on a failed era of antitrust enforcement,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, which pushes for antitrust reform and stepped-up enforcement, and a former colleague of Khan’s.