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Who Is Lina Khan?

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Lina Khan is the current Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Nominated by President Joe Biden on March 22, 2021, she was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in on June 15, 2021. Prior to her current appointment at the FTC, Khan was an Associate Professor at Columbia Law School.

Khan heads the FTC’s mission to promote competition, and protect consumers, which includes regulating anti-competitive and monopolistic practices. She will also oversee the commission’s efforts to regulate corporate abuses and other behaviors that are deceptive or unfair to consumers. 

She is best known for taking a strong stance on business practices by some of the country’s largest tech companies, like Amazon (AMZN), Apple (APPL), Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL). 

Key Takeaways

  • Lina Khan is Chair of the FTC, which is responsible for protecting consumer interests and market competition, and has oversight of federal antitrust investigations.
  • Khan’s early scholarship on the market power of big tech companies influenced lawmakers’ approaches to regulating digital platforms.  
  • At 32 at the time of her confirmation, she is the youngest FTC chair in history, as well as the first person of South Asian descent to hold the position.

Antitrust Scholarship 

Khan spent much of her early career researching and writing on market consolidation, at think tanks including The New America Foundation and The Open Markets Institute, and during her tenure at Columbia Law School.

In 2018, she served as a Legal Fellow at the FTC, in the office of Commissioner Rohit Chopra, and in 2019 she served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, conducting investigations on digital markets.

Her work on antitrust topics became part of the national conversation on regulating big tech for exploring how, among other things, access to competitor information can create conflicts of interest for tech platforms, and how their market power can harm markets and consumers.

Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox, published in 2017 while she was a law student at Yale, won awards and national acclaim for its challenge to the concept that antitrust law should focus on consumer welfare, or companies’ ability to offer goods at competitive prices, arguing that this framework failed to fully capture how some forms of market dominance impact competition.

In The Separation of Platforms and Commerce, a paper published in the Columbia Law Review in 2019, Khan suggested that companies with commerce platforms, acting as “gatekeepers for economic activity” should have structural separations to avoid conflicts of interest. 

Early Career and Education

Khan holds an undergraduate degree from Williams College, and a law degree from Yale Law School.

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