Some days ago, Lina Khan he turned 34 years old. Khan was born in London into a British family of Pakistani origin. He spent his early years in the UK but moved with his parents to the US at the age of 11. Specifically to Mamaroneck, New York, where he was a journalist for the high school newsletter. He was already pointing ways. She studied Politics at Williams College in Massachusetts where she, of course, was editor of the university newspaper and received her doctorate with a thesis on Hannah Arendt. It is 2010 and she still has seven years to write, during her third year as a law student at Yale, her famous article Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.
Khan argued, and continues to argue, that the current US antitrust legal framework, which focuses on keeping prices low for the consumer, does not serve to limit monopolistic and anticompetitive actions by big tech companies that do not sell products but, apparently, give away If there is no price market, the legal system that we have had in place since the 19th century to prevent companies from abusing competitors, incumbents and customers does not work. No one expected that a legal article in a prestigious but niche magazine, which established that the Sherman Act was broken, would have such an impact, not only in the closed legal world. but in the business.
if this were The Pelican Brief, we would have Lina running from an evil Jeff Bezos who tries to kill her to prevent her from telling the truth. An uncomfortable truth where legislators and regulators have failed us allowing the growth of technology companies to gain the size of many countries and get enough resources to control governments and wills. At one time those behemoths were puppies laden with good intentions left to grow unchecked under the same will that allowed blood to run unchecked during the conquest of the Wild West or the bodies of poor women and children piled up around them. of the industrial revolution: let it grow and then regulate, plot, protect.
The excessive growth of technology companies started from this premise. What is now a cry, before it was “putting gates to the field”, an imbecile expression where they exist because there is nothing with more gates and fences, or anything more drawn, parceled out or regulated than the field. One only has to go back before the pandemic to see rants from politicians, vendors of Zamoran blankets, and idiots in general talking about the saving power of technology. uber alles, when it was already evident that the size of the US and Chinese technology companies was a problem that we were not going to be able to simply fix with regulation. Because this technology creates addicts and changes brains in the long run.
But back to Lina Khan. Here her story approaches that of Erin Brockovich. In 2021, Joe Biden appoints a 32-year-old Lina the youngest director of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) -the competition supervisor in the US- and with her appointment the Democrats make a statement: no more hugging us with Silicon Valley; The time has come to put them on the path. After her appointment, Amazon and Facebook each filed challenges against her for understanding that her criticism made her unable to be impartial. That suspicion may have been founded, but what is certain is that she is loaded with fear.
Since their appointment, the two Republican advisers have resigned from their positions at the FTC. The latest, Christine Wilson, announced the day of lovers his intention to resign although he has not specified when. Wilson accused Khan and his “collaborators” of “contempt for the rule of law and due process.” If Khan applies the Khan doctrine, he can force Meta to cut himself up or establish Zuckerberg’s personal responsibility for what his company does, measures that have already been on the table and weigh on the heads of feudal techno-lords. It is not a small thing.
We all know that the European or Californian privacy regulation is insufficient to correct the neglect of the monopolistic, extractive and destructive growth of the innovation of the big companies. technology. No matter how important the sanctions are for the one who imposes them, they are still minuscule for the one who receives them. our warrior Margrethe Vestagerinspiration for Birgitte Nyborg’s character in borgin and for years a European competition commissioner, she knows the importance of limiting anti-competitive practices and has spent years cracking down on sanctions that would bring down the economy of many countries but that hardly change the attitude of a Meta or a Google. That Alphabet is forced to split is, however, a threat that changes attitudes.
So when Microsoft announced last year that it wanted to acquire video game maker Activision Blizzard for $70 billion, it found itself up against Lina. And not only to her, but also to the regulators of the EU and the United Kingdom. Microsoft’s entry into the world of video games is a step in the direction of a continuous metaverse, generated with AI (which it already owns after its acquisition of OpenIA), which would create a new control scenario impossible to bridle. And the regulators are not in the business of making this happen again. Because, for the first time in recent US history, messing with big tech it is popular with the right, who think it censors them, and the left, who know they control us.
Cooperation between antitrust regulators is not new, but opposition to the Microsoft Activision deal is the biggest test to date of this new alignment among global antitrust authorities. Khan advocates fighting even if he loses, bullying, cracking down on mergers and big tech. She has stated that she is willing to take on hard-to-win cases. to help push the boundaries of antitrust law. With Microsoft is winningand with Meta he has had a setback: a federal judge rejected the FTC’s attempt to block the purchase of Within -a start up of fitness of virtual reality – by Meta.
In a scenario where big tech lost $77 billion last year, laying off employees and shutting down projects, Lina Khan at the head of the FTC is another thorn in their shoe they’re dying to remove. Lina, our heroine, our Darby Shaw, has grown up.
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