Biden picks Pakistani-American Lina Khan as US Federal Trade Commissioner

By: News Desk      Published: 05:02 PM, 16 Jun, 2021
Biden picks Pakistani-American Lina Khan as US Federal Trade Commissioner
File photo.

A 32-year-old Pakistani-American legal expert and big tech critic has been sworn in as Chair of the US Federal Trade Commission, becoming the youngest person ever to head the top independent agency tasked with the enforcement of civil antitrust law and promotion of consumer protection.

Lina Khan -- who was nominated by President Joe Biden for the unexpired term of seven years from September 26, 2017, vice Joseph Simons -- was confirmed by the Senate with 69 to 28 votes on Tuesday. Her term will expire on September 25, 2024.

"It is a tremendous honour to have been selected by President Biden to lead the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)," Khan said after her swearing-in ceremony.

"I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect the public from corporate abuse. I'm very grateful to Acting Chairwoman Slaughter for her outstanding stewardship of the Commission," she said. Prior to becoming Chair of the FTC, Khan was an Associate Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, where she taught and wrote about antitrust law, infrastructure industries law, and the antimonopoly tradition.

Her antitrust scholarship has received several awards and has been published by the Yale Law Journal, Harvard Law Review, Columbia Law Review, and University of Chicago Law Review. Khan previously served as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, where she helped lead the Subcommittee's investigation into digital markets.

She was also a legal advisor in the office of Commissioner Rohit Chopra at the Federal Trade Commission and legal director at the Open Markets Institute. She is a graduate of Williams College and Yale Law School. Born to Pakistani parents in London on March 3, 1989, Khan moved to the US at the age of 11.

US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chair Maria Cantwell applauded the Senate confirmation of Khan.

"Her confirmation comes at a critical time for our nation as consumers have spent more time online than ever before during the pandemic, from connecting with loved ones, or staying on top of the news, to making a living by working remotely," Cantwell said.

"I believe in the promise of the internet and the information age, but I also believe that we need a policeman "or in this case 'a policewoman' on the beat. That is the FTC's core mission," she said. Cantwell said the government must protect consumers from the frauds and scams that have proliferated during the pandemic.

"We must protect their privacy and renew our focus on cybersecurity both of which are essential to protecting our national security and infrastructure. And we have to do everything we can to help stabilise the local news ecosystem which has been severely impacted by unfair practices by the major internet advertising platforms," she said.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said Biden administration's designation of Khan FTC Commissioner is a "tremendous news".

"Lina brings deep knowledge and expertise to this role and will be a fearless champion for consumers. Giant tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon deserve the growing scrutiny they are facing, and consolidation is choking off competition across American industries," she said.

"With Chair Khan at the helm, we have a huge opportunity to make big, structural change by reviving antitrust enforcement and fighting monopolies that threaten our economy, our society, and our democracy," Warren said. Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Chair Judy Chu congratulate Khan on her bipartisan confirmation to serve as a commissioner on the Federal Trade Commission.

"A legal expert with a brilliant mind, Lina helped to reframe our understanding of antitrust policy as a law student and has remained a leader in this field through her work as former counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law and as a faculty member at Columbia Law School," Chu said.

"Not only is Lina the youngest person in history to ever serve on the FTC, but she is also the daughter of Pakistani immigrant parents and a trailblazing AAPI leader who we in the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus were proud to support," she said.

Senator Amy Klobuchar said Khan's deep understanding of competition policy will be vital as the government strengthens antitrust enforcement.

"We need all hands on deck as we take on some of the biggest monopolies in the world...I look forward to working with her at the FTC as we advance efforts to protect consumer," she said.