Saturday, December 4, 2021

Senate confirms Google critic to lead DOJ antitrust division

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On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Google critic and competition lawyer Jonathan Kanter to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, marking yet another progressive win in antitrust enforcement under the Biden administration.

Kanter has a long history representing tech companies, like Yelp and Microsoft, in lawsuits accusing Google of anti-competitive behavior. Now that he’s been confirmed, Kanter will lead several Justice Department competition cases against big tech, including a monopoly lawsuit against Google alleging that the company maintains an illegal monopoly in the digital ads market.

“Throughout his career, Kanter has [sic] 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 statement over the summer.

Kanter is just the latest progressive favorite confirmed to lead the federal government’s crackdown on tech companies like Facebook and Google. In June, the Senate confirmed Lina Khan to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Khan first rose to prominence as a law student after authoring a 2017 paper titled “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.” The paper argued that the government needs new antitrust laws to prevent anti-competitive conduct in the tech industry.

The FTC has the authority to sue companies for anti-competitive behavior, and the agency is currently enmeshed in litigation against Facebook and Google. Kanter aligns closely with Khan and progressive antitrust scholar Tim Wu, who currently sits on the National Economic Council.

Kanter’s history of leading lawsuits against big tech companies in the past has led to calls from critics for him to recuse himself from the DOJ’s active antitrust cases against Google.

“Given that Kanter is famous for representing Microsoft and Yelp and attacking Google, Kanter will raise questions about his ability to impartially enforce the law against tech businesses, just like FTC Chair Khan,” said NetChoice vice president and general counsel Carl Szabo in a statement this summer.

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