Biden names noted Google critic to head DOJ antitrust efforts

The news: President Joe Biden plans to nominate Google critic Jonathan Kanter, an antitrust lawyer with 20 years’ experience, as the head of the Justice Department’s Antitrust division, per Bloomberg. This is the latest move by the administration to facilitate a sweeping crackdown on Big Tech companies and curb anticompetitive practices.

More on this: In 2019, the FTC and DOJ similarly focused on the tech sector and divided jurisdiction over the Big Four, assigning the DOJ to investigate Google and Apple and giving the FTC authority to investigate Facebook and Amazon, per The American Bar.

Kanter’s nomination could be the latest blow to Big Tech, which has seen unprecedented bipartisan government action in recent months. He has represented complainants that have accused Google of anticompetitive behavior, most notably Microsoft and Yelp, according to Bloomberg. President Biden previously nominated another tech critic and antitrust reform advocate Lina Khan to lead the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced sweeping antitrust legislation in June aimed at Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook. Designed to tackle monopolistic practices and introduce regulation, the bills could result in Big Tech companies overhauling business practices.
  • Khan’s appointment, which was decided in a 69-28 bipartisan vote, has already ruffled feathers in Silicon Valley. In July, she received pushback from Facebook and Amazon, who demanded she recuse herself from their antitrust cases.
  • President Joe Biden signed a sweeping executive order early July featuring 72 initiatives targeting corporate mergers, promoting user privacy, right-to-repair, and regulating data gathering practices.

What's next? Kanter’s appointment to the DOJ’s antitrust division could further solidify the government’s multi-pronged initiatives to curb Big Tech and introduce regulation.

Kanter’s reputation and antitrust experience, however, is likely to spark calls of recusal from Google and other tech firms. Big Tech has collectively ratcheted up their lobbying efforts as well as been vocal about removing antitrust critics from ongoing lawsuits.