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Amazon Seeks FTC Chair Lina Khan's Recusal from Anti-Trust Probe

Lina Khan, the newly appointed chief of the US Federal Trade Commission.

Lina Khan, the newly appointed chief of the US Federal Trade Commission.

Amazon says it is impossible for Khan to be impartial, given her past criticism of the company.

In a 25 page filing, e-commerce giant Amazon is asking that Lina Khan, the newly appointed chief of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and a strident Big Tech critic, step aside from anti-trust investigations of the company.

Amazon says it is impossible for Khan to be impartial, given her past criticism of the company.

“Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox" is one of Khan’s most influential papers, written when she was a law student at Yale University.

Amazon’s letter, which cuts the chase in the opening paragraph, reads: “Amazon.com, Inc. respectfully petitions the Commission for recusal of Chair Lina Khan from any antitrust investigation, adjudication, litigation, or other proceeding in which Amazon is a subject, target or defendant for which Chair Khan’s prior public statements create the appearance of her having prejudged facts and/or legal issues relevant to the proceeding."

Amazon is pushing for recusal on the ground that Khan has already made up her mind about many “material facts" on the company’s “culpability".

The letter reads: “Chair Khan has made numerous and highly detailed public pronouncements regarding Amazon, including on market definition, specific conduct and theories of harm, and the purpose, effects, and legality of such conduct. Indeed, she has on numerous occasions argued that Amazon is guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up. These statements convey to any reasonable observer the clear impression that she has already made up her mind about many material facts relevant to Amazon’s antitrust culpability as well as about the ultimate issue of culpability itself."

Khan began her term in the middle of June as President Joe Biden administration’s top federal regulator overseeing industry competition, consumer protection and digital privacy at a time when hostility to Big Tech’s market dominance is intensifying at home and abroad.

At 32, Khan is the youngest Chair in FTC history. Her term runs until September 25, 2024.

Khan was sworn in after the Senate confirmed her via a 69-28 vote.

She is one of three FTC Democratic commissioners. In 2019 and 2020, as counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law, Khan played a crucial role in a landmark bipartisan investigation of US tech giants’ market power.

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first published:July 02, 2021, 07:11 IST