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Biden names big tech nemesis as antitrust chief

Google critic nominated to lead Justice Department’s antitrust division

In the latest sign that the White House wants to rein in big tech, President Joe Biden nominated a prominent Google and Apple adversary to be the Justice Department’s next antitrust chief.

Jonathan Kanter is a lawyer known as a legal nemesis of giant tech corporations, such as Google and Apple. He recently started his law firm, Kanter Law Group, which bills itself as “an antitrust advocacy boutique.”

“Throughout his career, Kanter has been a leading advocate and expert in the effort to promote strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy,” the White House said in a news release.

Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, told Reuters that Kanter “has crafted many of the most successful legal arguments driving the major antitrust investigations into Big Tech.”

The Biden administration previously chose two antitrust progressives with tech expertise, Tim Wu for the National Economic Council and Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook and Amazon have already called for Khan to recuse herself from antitrust cases targeting them.

If the Senate confirms Kanter, he will take the reins of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division amid calls for tougher enforcement, particularly of Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple. The division will play a key role in implementing Biden’s recent executive order aiming to promote competition in the US economy, with a particular focus on big tech companies

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Kanter’s nomination won praise from Democrats eager to see tougher antitrust enforcement.

“He’s been a leader in the fight to check consolidated corporate power and strengthen competition in our markets,” tweeted Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who led the calls to break up Big Tech as a candidate in the 2020 presidential primary election.

For years, the tech giants have been under investigation, including a large Congressional antitrust hearing last July where lawmakers grilled tech CEOs directly. 

The House Judiciary Committee followed that up with a lengthy report in October detailing an extensive investigation into big tech antitrust practices. Later that month, the Department of Justice charged Google with antitrust violations, and the FTC launched its antitrust case against Facebook.

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