U.S. Attorney General William Barr has appointed a lawyer from the Justice Department’s antitrust outfit to be his go-to in a large probe into tech companies, and whether they’re using size and influence to stifle competition, according to a report by Bloomberg.
Lauren Willard has been appointed as a counselor to the AG, and she’ll report to him directly on the review.
The move signifies the AG’s personal interest in the case, and the increasing scrutiny on large tech companies in general over privacy and monopoly concerns.
Last month, the DOJ said that it was “reviewing whether and how market-leading online platforms have achieved market power and are engaging in practices that have reduced competition, stifled innovation, or otherwise harmed consumers.”
The increased attention on tech from the AG illustrates how the President Donald Trump administration and other lawmakers view the companies, especially in terms of the supposed silencing of conservative views.
Tech companies have been accused of a litany of things, including collecting too much user data, not policing content, hindering competition and not giving consumers the amount of choices they should.
Willard has a storied background. She joined the DOJ in September 2018 as a counselor to the head of the antitrust division. While she was there, she worked on cases involving the reviewing of mergers, litigations and competition, with particular interest in tech companies and how they dealt with each other.
She worked as a clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for Judge Alex Kozinski, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court for Justice Anthony Kennedy.
She received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University, and she has a master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.