The Biden administration tripled its commitment to rein in powerful tech companies on Tuesday, offering Big Tech critic Jonathan Kantor to head the Justice Department’s antitrust department.
Cantor is an attorney with a long track record of representing smaller companies like Yelp in antitrust cases against Google. He currently practices law at his firm, which specializes in advocacy for state and federal antitrust enforcement.
“Throughout his career, Cantor has been a leading advocate and expert in the effort to promote strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy,” the White House press release said. Progressives celebrated the nomination as a victory, although some of Biden’s new disbelievers have support from both political parties.
The Justice Department already has a major antitrust lawsuit against Google in the works. The lawsuit, filed by Trump’s own Justice Department, accuses the company of “unlawfully maintaining a monopoly” through anti-competitive practices in its search and search advertising businesses. If confirmed successfully, Cantor will be positioned to run the DOJ’s larger case against Google.
In a 2016 NYT op-ed, Cantor argued that Google is notorious for relying on an anti-competitive “playbook” to maintain its market dominance. Cantor pointed to Google’s long history of releasing free ad-supported products and eventually restricting competition to any corner of the market through “discriminatory and exclusionary practices”.
Cantor is just the latest high-profile Big Tech critic to be elevated to a key regulatory role under Biden. Last month, Biden named Amazon critic Lena Khan as FTC chair following the agency’s confirmation. In March, Biden named another famous Big Tech critic, Columbia law professor Tim Wu, to the National Economic Council as a special assistant for tech and competition policy.
All signs point to the Biden White House preparing for a major Confederate battle with Big Tech. Congress is working on a set of Big Tech bills, but in lieu of — or along with — legislative reform, the White House could flex its own regulatory muscle through the FTC and the DOJ.
In new comments to MSNBC, the White House confirmed that it is also “reviewing” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a powerful piece of legislation that protects the platform from liability for user-generated content.