President Joe Biden plans to appoint Jonathan Kanter as head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, the White House stated Tuesday, the newest signal that the administration is making ready a broad crackdown on massive expertise firms.
Kanter, who left one of many nation’s greatest regulation corporations final yr to begin his personal agency, is a long-time foe of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, representing firms which have pushed antitrust enforcers to sue the search big.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter would take over the division because it forges forward with a monopoly lawsuit filed in October in opposition to Google and an investigation of Apple Inc. over its App Store practices.
Kanter is the favored candidate of a faction of lawmakers and antitrust consultants who say the U.S. financial system is suffering from monopoly energy throughout industries, and that enforcers on the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission must extra aggressively police mergers and anticompetitive conduct.
Kanter’s nomination follows Biden’s signing of a sweeping government order designed to advertise competitors throughout industries, together with measures reminiscent of limiting noncompete agreements for employees and permitting imports of pharmaceuticals from Canada.
If confirmed, Kanter would grow to be one of many high antitrust officers within the U.S., together with FTC Chair Lina Khan. Biden unexpectedly elevated Khan to run the FTC after she was confirmed by the Senate as a commissioner final month. Khan, who was a Columbia Law School professor when she was appointed, is likely one of the most distinguished advocates within the U.S. for extra forceful antitrust enforcement and breaking with the usual playbook for policing competitors.
Kanter is carefully aligned with Khan in addition to Tim Wu, who was appointed as a White House adviser on expertise and competitors coverage. Unlike Khan, who wants a majority of the five-member FTC to take enforcement actions, Kanter may have the only real authority to file lawsuits looking for to cease mergers and problem firms over practices that hurt competitors.
While Kanter was into account by Biden, supporters posted photographs on social media of espresso mugs emblazoned with “Wu & Khan & Kanter.”
Kanter, who additionally beforehand labored as an antitrust lawyer on the FTC, left Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP final yr to discovered Kanter Law Group. During the Obama administration, Microsoft Corp. engaged him to push antitrust officers to take motion in opposition to Google. More just lately, he represented shoppers, together with Yelp Inc., who urged the Justice Department to sue Google final yr.
Kanter was an early advocate for extra aggressive motion in opposition to tech giants and for rethinking how antitrust enforcers analyze competitors in digital markets. In 2016, at an occasion about Amazon.com Inc. hosted by the left-leaning suppose tank New America, Kanter faulted antitrust officers for his or her failure to deliver monopoly instances in opposition to dominant firms.
“Antitrust enforcement is barely on life help,” he stated. “When was the final time you may keep in mind a serious antitrust company bringing a monopolization case? The motive you may’t keep in mind it’s as a result of they haven’t achieved it.”
At a webinar final yr hosted by the American Economic Liberties Project, an anti-monopoly group that advocates for breakups of tech firms, Kanter known as a House report that accused tech firms of abusing their market energy “transformative” for describing how antitrust enforcement has failed and outlining what to do about it.
“There is one thing we will repair proper now,” he stated. “We have legal guidelines. Those legal guidelines are in place. Let’s implement them, and let’s implement them repeatedly, with vigor, with ardour, creativity and that means. That is one thing that might change tomorrow.”
Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are taking steps to reform present legal guidelines and provides enforcers extra authority to tackle America’s greatest tech firms. In June, the House Judiciary Committee superior a bundle of payments that will place important new constraints on how tech platforms function, together with that they divest companies in some circumstances.
If confirmed, Kanter would oversee the antitrust division’s monopoly lawsuit in opposition to Google. The case, filed final yr by the Trump administration, accuses the corporate of abusing its dominance in web search through the use of unique distribution agreements with Apple and different firms to close out competitors. The lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in 2023.
The Google lawsuit is certainly one of two monopoly instances pending in opposition to the massive tech platforms. The FTC final yr sued Facebook Inc., arguing the corporate’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp ought to unwound. A choose in June dismissed the criticism, saying the company didn’t help its declare that Facebook is a monopoly within the social media market. He gave the FTC till the tip of July to repair the error and refile.