lina-khan-ftcSource: Screenshot YouTube

What you need to know

  • Amazon wants the new FTC chair to recuse herself from any cases involving the e-commerce giant.
  • Amazon says Lina Khan's past relationship regarding her research would cloud her judgment.
  • The 25-page document indicates that her judgment would not be fair.

Amazon has petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to recuse its new chair, Lina Khan, from ongoing antitrust cases of the e-commerce giant, a 25-page document filed by Amazon indicates.

The company cites Khan's past criticism of Amazon's power and argues that her public comments about the company being "guilty of antitrust violations and should be broken up" suggest she is not impartial in any investigation of the company.

The FTC is currently reviewing Amazon's proposed acquisition of movie studio MGM; the acquisition would allow users to stream new content on the best Android phones. The FTC is also investigating Amazon's treatment of third-party sellers.

The company told Android Central in an email statement that Khan's views have been made and are clearly based on her previous work.

"Amazon should be scrutinized along with all large organizations. However, even large companies have the right to an impartial investigation," Amazon said. "Chair Khan's body of work and public statements demonstrate that she has prejudged the outcome of matters the FTC may examine during her term, and under established law, preclude her from participating in such matters."

U.S. President Joe Biden named Khan, a prominent critic of Big Tech, as chair of the FTC, and on June 15, the Senate voted across party lines to confirm her.

Khan, 32, said she looked "forward to working" with her colleagues to "protect the public from corporate abuse." Her role will mean companies like Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google will face tough scrutiny.

Prior to her new role, Khan became a prominent voice when she was a law student at Yale University, where she wrote a researched paper about modern antitrust laws and how they failed to check the power of Amazon. The paper gathered attention from policymakers, lawyers, and the press. Khan also attracted the attention of Senator Amy Klobuchar — the chair of the Senate subcommittee that oversees antitrust issues — progressive Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

At the same time, criticism from Big Tech lobbyists and pro-tech groups indicates that her position and previous research could have her rule on cases with bias.

Carl Szabo, vice-president and general counsel of NetChoice, an industry group whose founders include Google, Facebook, and Amazon, said in an interview that the purpose of the FTC chair is to enforce the law like a judge, who looks at facts.

"When it comes to Ms. Khan, she seems to be less interested in applying the law as written, than writing the law and that's very dangerous because we want fair decisions based on the law not how any judge feels about that defendant," he said.

Szabo, who used to work for former FTC Commissioner Orson Swindle, suspects that Khan is "capable of operating independently." However, her background "casts a cloud of doubt on everything the FTC does. It undermines the credibility of the agency."

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