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Lina Khan, FTC Chair, Faces GOP Firestorm Amid Controversial Tech Probes

FTC Chairwoman Lina Khan is the center of attention in a heated congressional hearing led by Republicans who question her agency's tactics.

Lina Khan
Lina Khan

GOP Questions FTC's Approach Under Khan's Leadership

Lina Khan, the progressive leader of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), found herself at the center of intense scrutiny during a Republican-led House committee hearing on Thursday. The questioning and sharp criticism mainly stemmed from the Republicans on the committee.

The session commenced with the House Judiciary Committee's Chairman Jim Jordan describing Khan's tenure at the agency as a "disaster." The critique primarily focused on the FTC's probe into billionaire Elon Musk's acquisition of Twitter. Jordan contended that the review was a significant overreach, a claim vehemently supported by other Republicans.

FTC Faces Accusations of Biased Social Media Oversight

The committee requested documents about the agency's review of the Musk-Twitter deal, expressing dissatisfaction with the FTC's response. Conservatives, although lacking substantial evidence, have also accused social media platforms such as pre-Musk Twitter of suppressing conservative voices.

Democrat Defense: Khan is 'Doing Her Job'

Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the committee, swiftly countered the accusations. He argued that concentration within specific sectors of the U.S. economy is a genuine concern, something the FTC is attempting to address. He defended Khan, saying, "Ultimately Chair Khan, you will face attacks today because you are doing your job. That is what threatens Republicans."

FTC's Track Record Under Scrutiny

During the hearing, Khan is likely to face queries regarding the agency's recent loss. On Tuesday, a federal judge allowed Microsoft's $69 billion acquisition of "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard to proceed. Despite the setback, the FTC has vowed to appeal the decision.

This is not the first loss under Khan's leadership. Earlier, the FTC failed to prevent Facebook's parent company Meta Platforms from acquiring VR content creator Within Unlimited. An internal FTC judge also approved Illumina's purchase of Grail, overriding FTC commissioners.

Upcoming FTC Challenges to High-Value Deals

The FTC is preparing for upcoming legal battles aimed at halting Intercontinental Exchange's $13.1 billion deal for Black Knight and Amgen's $27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics. These cases highlight the agency's ongoing focus on controlling concentration within the industry.