The New Yorker has a profile of Lina Khan, the thirty-two-year-old associate professor at Columbia Law School who just has been named to chair the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), where she is expected to take a muscular approach to enforcing antitrust laws, especially as they apply to big tech companies.
"The daughter of Pakistani immigrants to the United States, Khan first came to public attention in 2017, when, as a student at Yale Law School, she published a lengthy article in the Yale Law Journal which argued that Amazon shouldn’t be excluded from antitrust scrutiny simply because it had a history of cutting prices. To the many retail businesses that have been decimated by Jeff Bezos’s juggernaut, Khan was merely stating the obvious. But her article represented a challenge to the policy orthodoxy that has dominated the world of antitrust law for decades … Rather than engaging in arcane arguments about prices in particular markets, as many antitrust lawsuits have done, Khan took a historical approach.
"In her article, she pointed out that the creators of America’s bedrock antitrust laws - the Sherman Act of 1890 and the Clayton Act of 1914 - had broader goals than reducing prices. 'Congress enacted antitrust laws to rein in the power of industrial trusts, the large business organizations that had emerged in the late nineteenth century,' Khan wrote. 'Responding to a fear of concentrated power, antitrust sought to distribute it.'
"She went on to compare Amazon to the vast railroad combines that Cornelius Vanderbilt and other robber barons put together by squeezing out smaller rivals and giving preferential deals to favored customers. The article concluded, 'In order to capture these anticompetitive concerns, we should replace the consumer welfare framework with an approach oriented around preserving a competitive process and market structure'."
If you want to get a sense of how the battle is going to play out, click here.