New US antitrust sheriff

Then FTC Commissioner nominee Lina M. Khan testifies during a Senate hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 21, 2021. Graeme Jennings/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Lina Khan brings star power to her new gig as head of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. At 32, she will be the youngest agency chief, and she has already made a splash as a law student by using expanded views on antitrust laws to target (AMZN.O) read more . Her high profile and intellectual heft make her a tough opponent for big technology firms.

The FTC has historically gone easy on Silicon Valley giants. On mergers, it seamlessly cleared Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market, Facebook’s (FB.O) purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram, and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) unit Google’s deal for YouTube. It was only last December when the agency sued Mark Zuckerberg’s firm for allegedly using its merger strategy to stifle competition.

Khan’s energy likely means she won’t be outgunned by massive firms with vast resources and deep pockets. After taking on Amazon while at Yale’s law school, she contributed to a blistering U.S. House Judiciary Committee report on the anti-competitive behavior of Big Tech. The companies policed by the FTC can no longer count on just slaps on the wrist. (By Gina Chon)

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