Biden to appoint Big Tech critic to DOJ antitrust role
President Biden plans to appoint lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the head of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) antitrust division, the White House announced Tuesday, another sign of the administration’s intention to take on Big Tech.
Kanter has been a favorite pick of progressive organizations pushing for the DOJ and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to do more to crack down on anti-competitive conduct, especially in the tech industry.
Kanter, who started his own law firm last year, has represented companies seeking to push antitrust enforcers into suing Google. If confirmed he would hold the position of assistant attorney general for the antitrust division. News of the selection was first reported by Bloomberg.
“President Biden has made an excellent choice to lead the DOJ’s antitrust division. Jonathan Kanter has the experience, values, and intellectual foresight to ensure that antitrust enforcement under the Biden administration delivers for working people, small businesses, and communities,” said Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project.
“A formidable attorney, Kanter has devoted his career to reinvigorating antitrust enforcement. He has crafted many of the most successful legal arguments driving the major antitrust investigations into Big Tech. And he is widely respected on both sides of the aisle in Congress and in the legal community,” Miller added.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) praised Biden’s pick, calling him “a leader in the fight to check consolidated corporate power and strengthen competition in our markets.”
If confirmed by the 50-50 split Senate, Kanter would join FTC chair Lina Khan and White House economic adviser Tim Wu in a growing group of outspoken Big Tech critics in the Biden administration.
The nomination comes after Biden issued a sweeping executive order aimed at promoting competition that leans heavily on the FTC and DOJ antitrust division to carry it out.
“His deep legal experience and history of advocating for aggressive action make him an excellent choice to lead the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), chair of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, said in a statement.
Kanter would inherit an existing case against Google that alleged the search giant unlawfully maintained monopolies in search and online advertising.
Facebook and Amazon have already asked Khan to recuse herself from investigations aimed at them, and Kanter’s previous work could set up a similar objection from Google.
Updated: 2:15 p.m.