Who is Lina Khan? Joe Biden set to nominate Big Tech critic and antitrust expert for Federal Trade Commission
Khan's nomination after Big Tech critic Tim Wu's hiring by White House signals an aggressive regulatory policy by Biden against the tech giants
In a move hailed by many, President Joe Biden reportedly has his eyes set to nominate well-known antitrust expert Lina Khan to be Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The news of Biden's decision for the nomination comes just days after Big Tech critic Tim Wu was hired as an economic adviser to the White House.
Experts speculate that with Khan's latest nomination signals, Biden is determined to exercise an aggressive regulatory policy against tech giants like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others. The 32-year-old recently underwent a background check by the FBI and she will be joining the FTC if she is confirmed by the Senate. Let us find out more about the Columbia Law professor who formerly worked at the FTC as a Legal Fellow under Commissioner Rohit Chopra.
Who is Lina Khan?
Born in 1989 in London, England, Khan is of Pakistani descent, with both her parents hailing from Pakistan. Her family moved to the US when she was 11 years old. In 2010, Khan graduated Magna cum laude from Williams College in Massachusetts with a BA degree in political theory, where she wrote a thesis on Hannah Arendt. At Williams College, she was appointed the editor of the student newspaper.
She later pursued a law degree from Yale Law School and earned her JD in 2017. When Lina Khan was still a student of law at Yale University, her article on 'Amazon's Antitrust Paradox' published in the Yale Law Journal, created a huge wave of impact in the American legal and business domain.
She earned considerable acclaim for her critique of the existing American antitrust law. She also suggested unique alternative approaches in the antitrust law framework, that would restore "traditional antitrust and competition policy principles or applying common carrier obligations and duties."
During her days at Yale, Khan worked as a submission editor for the Yale Journal on Regulation. Aside from her famous 2017 article, she also authored several articles on antitrust, tech platform power and market power problem — which have been published in esteemed journals like Harvard Law Review and Columbia Law Review. Her views had been described by New York Times to be 'reframing decades of monopoly law', reveals her website.
Post her graduation, Khan joined the New America Foundation where she researched anti-monopoly. Soon afterward she joined its spinoff Open Markets Institute, following her criticism of the market power of Google - which funded New America.
In 2018, Khan worked in the FTC in the office of Commissioner Rohit Chopra, before joining Columbia Law School as an academic researcher. There she pursued further research on antitrust law and competition policy with a focus on digital platforms.
The following year, Khan served as a counsel to the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law. She has even led the congressional investigation into digital markets from the forefront. Khan became an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School in 2020.
In personal life, Lina Khan is married to cardiologist Shah Ali since 2018 and the couple had their honeymoon in Hawaii, reported New York Times.
When not busy with research, Lina Khan is often found with her camera and has a penchant for photography, as evident from the photo gallery on her website.
What does Lina Khan's nomination mean for Biden?
Politico predicts that welcoming Khan to FTC will probably raise an alarm among the Big Tech, as her nomination already signifies that Biden is planning a major regulatory push in the antitrust laws and market policy.
"Khan would be one of three Democratic commissioners at the agency, which oversees privacy, data security and some antitrust enforcement, at a time when it’s faced sharp criticism for not doing enough to police major tech firms like Google and Facebook over their privacy practices and past mergers. At 32, she’d also be the youngest FTC commissioner ever," writes Leah Nylen, the antitrust reporter for Politico.
It is believed that Biden will be making a notable shift in market philosophy, unlike the Obama regime which saw a close alliance between the Democratic Party and Big Tech. When Biden was serving as the Vice-President under Obama, the White House and Silicon Valley was known to have had a symbiotic relationship. However, with Khan's nomination, the situation is highly likely to change.