Biden to nominate Google critic Jonathan Kanter to lead DOJ antitrust division

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President Joe Biden will nominate Jonathan Kanter, an ardent Google critic and competition lawyer, to lead the Justice Department’s antitrust division, as first reported by Bloomberg on Tuesday.

Kanter has a long history of representing companies in competition cases against Google, and he opened his own law firm last year. If confirmed by the Senate, Kanter would take the helm on a slate of cases against big tech companies led by the Justice Department, including a monopoly lawsuit filed against Google last October. The case accuses the search giant of creating an illegal monopoly in the digital ads market.

“Jonathan Kanter is a distinguished antitrust lawyer with over 20 years of experience,” the White House said in a press release Tuesday. “Throughout his career, Kanter has also been a leading advocate and expert in the effort to promote strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy.”

The Justice Department is also currently engaged in a sweeping competition investigation into Apple and the requirements it places on developers in its App Store.

Kanter is just the latest Biden nomination marking a significant step forward in antitrust enforcement, especially in the tech industry. Earlier this year, Biden nominated Lina Khan, a tech antitrust pioneer and author of the widely cited “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” legal paper, to chair the Federal Trade Commission. Tim Wu, another progressive antitrust champion, currently sits on the National Economic Council.

Kanter aligns closely with Khan and Wu. But unlike Khan, who needs a majority of votes at the FTC to enforce antitrust law, Kanter would be able to file lawsuits to stop mergers on his own as deputy attorney general.

Earlier this month, Biden signed an executive order designed to promote competition with a strong focus on technology companies. The order included a new mandate requiring “greater scrutiny of mergers, especially by dominant internet platforms, with a particular attention to the acquisition of nascent competitors, serial mergers, the accumulation of data, competition by ‘free’ products, and the effect on user privacy.” The order also called on the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to issue new rulings promoting policy goals like the “right to repair” and net neutrality.

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