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Chair Khan Says FTC Will Take On Big Tech

 |  January 19, 2022

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) won’t back down in the face of intimidation from better-resourced opponents, said Chair Lina Khan in an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, January 19, her first on-camera sit-down.

Khan said it takes “courage” to take on companies with immense power, especially in the face of the FTC’s own resource challenges that force it to narrow down its priorities farther than its leaders would like.

“We’re really showing these companies, but also showing the country, that enforcers are not going to back down because of these companies flexing some muscle or kind of trying to intimidate us,” Khan told CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin and Kara Swisher, host of The New York Times’ “Sway” podcast. “I think those are the types of lessons that we’re trying to learn looking back over the last decade.”

Related: Lina Khan Tells Staffers She Aims To Build Bridges Going Forward

Under her leadership, the FTC has already taken steps to show its resolve against big business. The agency filed an amended complaint against Facebook on antitrust charges after its earlier one was dismissed, and this time was allowed to advance. And in the face of a historic merger surge, it’s also signaled it will impose tougher sanctions on firms that pursue anticompetitive mergers, like requiring prior approval for future transactions in settlements.

Khan credited some of the forceful approach of some of these firms with the standards they had gotten used to from law enforcement historically.

“The fact that some of these firms have gotten maybe lighter touch treatment in the past, I think we’re now seeing them respond to as some of the cases and the enforcement actions pile up,” she said.

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