Big Tech also has another reason to be concerned about the threat of U.S. government regulation.
President Biden announced Tuesday that he is nominating Jonathan Kanter, a well-known legal enemy of Google and other major technology companies, heads the antitrust division of the Justice Department. If confirmed in his seat by the Senate, Kanter has the power to face cases to break up Big Tech companies or otherwise limit the size of his companies. And as head of the DOJ antitrust division, Kanter would also decide how to proceed with the Trump administration’s first case against Google for engaging in allegedly anti-competitive business practices.
Kanter has long argued that regulators have failed to enforce antitrust antitrust laws against the technology sector and that this lack of regulation is hurting small businesses and American consumers. If confirmed, Kanter will join two other recent Biden nominees: Lina Khan, who heads the FTC; and Tim Wu, senior White House adviser on economic policy. Like Kanter, they have both built their careers making it clear that the government needs to more aggressively regulate technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.
These three powerful government figures are a disturbing trifecta for Google and other major technology companies. And his rise to power is good news for supporters of the Big Tech rupture (to the point that some key political supporters have made the promotion) Wu & Khan & Kanter Mugs on social media).
“With Lina Khan on the Federal Trade Commission, Tim Wu on the National Economic Council, and dozens of other strong leaders in departments and agencies throughout the Biden administration, the appointment of Jonathan Kanter to lead the Antitrust Division explains end of the era of unacceptable monopoly.power in America, “Barry Lynn, executive director of the political group Open Markets Institute, wrote in a statement.
Other anti-monopoly policy groups such as the American Project for Economic Freedoms publish similar positive statements.
“President Biden has made an excellent choice to lead the DOJ’s antitrust division,” Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Freedom Project, wrote in a statement to Recode. “Jonathan Kanter has the experience, values and intellectual foresight to ensure that antitrust enforcement under the Biden administration provides for workers, small businesses and communities …. He has created some of the most effective legal arguments. successes leading major antitrust investigations in Big Tech ”.
Kanter is an antitrust lawyer who has already represented competitors of Google such as Yelp and Microsoft.
The Senate will have to confirm Kanter to secure his position. Senator Amy Klobuchar (DM), who sponsors the bills regulating the technology, and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) immediately issued statements of support.
“I look forward to working together to ensure that the Antitrust Division fulfills its mission of vigorously enforcing antitrust laws, protecting consumers and promoting competition throughout our economy, and will continue to push for additional resources to support this critical effort. , ”Senator Klobuchar wrote, in part, in a statement.
Kanter’s experience representing Google’s competitors in the past may be something that Google tries to use against him, according to CNBC. The company could be pushed to be rejected by cases involving Google, arguing that these create a conflict of interest for it.
It’s already starting to happen with Khan: Amazon and Facebook have it tramindui asked Khan for refusing to sue his companies because of his past criticism of his business practices. Khan has the advantage of broad bipartisan support in Congress, so it is unclear whether these petitions will be successful.
Considering that Trump’s candidate for head of the antitrust division, Makan Delrahim, had to refuse if for the opposite reason – Google advised earlier in his career – the stories of these new nominees to be critical of the technology sector tell a lot about Washington’s current attitudes towards the industry.
Kanter’s appointment is also a reflection of Biden’s broader political agenda of remaining in Silicon Valley power. Earlier this month, Biden issued an executive order on competition, directing government agencies such as the FTC to examine more closely the technology sector. And recently, it’s been more and more criticism of social media companies like Facebook to have allowed the proliferation of disinformation on topics like Covid-19 on its platforms.
It’s true that lawmakers and regulators have been urging more Big Tech antitrust scrutiny for a while. But these efforts and appointments signal a change: Rather than just talk about antitrust enforcement, the government may finally be ready to act.