Jul 14, 2021 - Technology

Facebook calls on FTC chair Khan to recuse from antitrust case

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: Michaela Handrek-Rehle/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook on Wednesday filed a petition for Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan to recuse herself from any decision-making about whether and how to continue the agency's antitrust case against the social media giant.

Why it matters: Khan, a vocal critic of Big Tech's power, took over leadership of the agency as it weighs whether to refile its complaint against the company after a judge dismissed it last month.

Details: In its petition, Facebook argues that Khan's public criticism and previous work make it seem she has already prejudged the company's antitrust liability. Facebook cites:

  • Khan's work for antitrust advocacy group Open Markets Institute.
  • Academic writing in which Facebook says Khan discussed her "belief that Facebook violated the antitrust laws."
  • Khan's work in the House Judiciary Committee's investigation of competition in the digital marketplace, which focused on Facebook and other tech companies.
  • Public appearances and statements, including a New York Times interview.
  • Twitter posts in which Khan commented on the FTC's lawsuit against Facebook.

What they're saying: "Chair Khan has consistently made well-documented statements about Facebook and antitrust matters that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that she has prejudged the Facebook antitrust case brought by the FTC," a Facebook spokesperson said.

  • "To protect the fairness and impartiality of these proceedings, we have requested that Chair Khan recuse herself from involvement with the FTC’s antitrust case against Facebook."
  • An FTC spokesperson declined comment.

The big picture: Amazon made similar arguments about Khan's previous work and statements in seeking her recusal in a petition earlier this month.

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