July 26, 2021

Lina Khan, fierce critic of GAFA, appointed head of US antitrust

« Wow ! ». The two American journalists specializing in the technology sector Geoffrey A. Fowler and Mike Swift have had the same reaction of surprise on Twitter to the announcement of the appointment of Lina Khan as chairman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). No one expected this criticism of the power of the digital giants to be propelled, Tuesday, June 15, to the head of the American competition constable, only hours after being confirmed as a simple member by a bipartisan vote of the Senate ( 69 for 28 against).

The shock aroused by the choice of Lina Khan by the President of the United States, Joe Biden, is partly due to her profile. At only 32 years old, this woman became the youngest president of the institution. The American media also note that she was born in London to Pakistani parents, before emigrating to the United States at the age of 11.

However, it is above all the political line defended by Mr.me Khan, who gives an exceptional echo to her promotion: this law professor at Columbia University (New York) is a leading figure in the opposition to « monopoles » GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon). In 2017, while still a student, in an article titled “Amazon’s antitrust paradox”, she advocated a change in policy direction. of the United States in the matter, judged, since the end of the years 1970, too conciliatory with the large groups, in the name of the well-being of the consumer.

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Since then, Lina Khan has been legal director of the Open Markets think tank (which campaigns against monopolies), adviser to Democratic FTC member Rohit Chopra and kingpin of the drafting of a very virulent parliamentary report of Democratic representatives advocating for legislation. against the GAFA, or even to dismantle them.

Hostile reactions

“Lina will be a fearless champion in the service of consumers”, welcomed Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, inspired by the work of Mr.me Khan during her campaign for the Democratic nomination, in which she promised to “Break” the GAFA. “Lina has the capacity to transform American economic policy”, enthusiastic Barry Lynn, the founder of Open Markets, quoted by the New York Times.

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On the web industry side, this appointment provoked hostile reactions: « Mme Khan has done a good job of persuading the American left of the need to reform antitrust laws, but the FTC must apply these texts as they are, not as they would like them to be ”, criticized NetChoice, a lobby group to which Google, Amazon or Facebook belong. The new president of the FTC embodies “Antitrust populism” which risks damaging the American giants for the benefit of “Less successful foreign rivals”, added l’Information Technology and Information Foundation, a think tank co-funded by the tech giants.

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