Washington’s judgment on tech giants is already “written,” Lina Khan tells Israeli newspaper


In a second article from the same newspaper, published on Sunday, Sussman said he hoped U.S. lawmakers would look beyond the biggest tech giants to change antitrust laws. Otherwise, he said, Congress could fail to act on “monopolies in agriculture, health and telecommunications.”

The latest publication of Sussman’s remarks comes amid growing tension between Khan’s agency and tech giants like Facebook and Amazon, who accused her of having already made up her mind on the need for action. antitrust against their companies. Khan was part of a decision in August to take legal action to dismantle Facebook, after the FTC general counsel rejected a petition from the company that sought to remove it from the investigation. Amazon is still the subject of an FTC antitrust investigation related to its conduct and a separate investigation into its proposed merger with MGM Studios.

FTC spokesman Peter Kaplan said the quotes in both articles were from an April interview Sussman gave to The Marker before joining the FTC and did not violate a public speaking ban that the agency had instituted against FTC staff at the end of June. Kaplan did not have an immediate comment on whether Khan agreed with Sussman’s view on the need for broader antitrust legislation.

Sussman did not immediately respond to attempts to reach him for comment on Monday.

Sussman recused himself from the FTC’s Amazon investigation because he previously represented an Amazon seller in a House Judiciary Committee antitrust investigation into online marketplaces. Khan, a progressive anti-monopolist and former Columbia Law School professor, served as an assistant to the same House inquiry.

President Joe Biden’s decision to appoint Khan as FTC chairman in June has delighted competition advocates who want the agency to take a tougher line against the biggest players in the tech industry. She quickly enlisted the help of Sussman, formerly a lawyer at New York law firm Pearl Cohen and a member of the anti-Amazon Institute for Local Self-Reliance group, to become her principal antitrust advisor.

While Khan is allowed four advisers to help her make decisions on FTC priorities and cases, she has yet to hire the other three.

In the May article with The Marker, Sussman said he expected Facebook and Google to be dismantled – not because of any pre-established animosity at the FTC, but because so many members of Congress are determined to do so.

“I don’t know if they will be dismantled in the next few years, but from a legal standpoint their judgment has been written,” Sussman said at the time. “If a year ago you had asked me, I would have said there was no way. But if they fail to dismantle them, senators and members of Congress will see it as a personal failure.

He added: “Josh Hawley brought in the bill to separate Amazon and Google and he’s an extreme conservative and he said ‘all of these companies are going to be on the butcher’s table.’

The next article, published on Sunday, featured Sussman as one of three Israelis helping to shape the policies of the Biden administration alongside Orly Lobel, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, and Hong Kong University economist Roni Michaely. The two Lobel work on non-compete agreements in employment contracts and Michaely’s research on the growing concentration in American industries were cited in Biden’s recent decree on promoting competition.

In this story, Sussman expressed hope that Congress will not stop after dealing with a handful of the most important tech companies.

“There is a risk that the focus will be on the digital four giants, and after that the inertia will run out, which would have led to more systemic legislation,” he added. Sussman said. “Other areas are forgotten, the monopolies in agriculture, health and cellular / telecommunications – which are not connected to Apple or Google – are forgotten. In the United States, for example, people pay the highest telephone rates in the world, but people don’t have a problem with that. “

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