Facebook on Wednesday requested the recall of Federal Trade Commission President Lina Khan from the FTC’s antitrust case against the company, a move that could complicate the agency’s lawsuit against it.
A prominent critic of Big Tech, who was sworn in as FTC chairman in June. Khan previously worked for the subcommittee on the court’s monopoly, which released a report in October that clarified what it said was anti-competitive behavior from Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google’s Alphabet.
“President Khan has consistently made well-documented statements about Facebook and antitrust issues that would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that she has anticipated the Facebook antitrust case brought by the FTC,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
“In order to protect the fairness and impartiality of these cases, we have requested that President Khan withdraw from involvement in the FTC’s antitrust case against Facebook.”
The FTC declined to comment on the recall request. Two weeks ago, Amazon, which is under investigation by the FTC, also asked for Khan to be recalled.
The FTC sued Facebook in December, claiming that the social media giant broke the antitrust law by buying photo-sharing app Instagram and messaging service WhatsApp. A U.S. judge dismissed the complaint in June and gave the agency a roadmap for how it should be rewritten with a July 29 deadline to resume it.
In his petition to the FTC, Facebook asked that Khan not be allowed to participate in the decision on and how the FTC case against Facebook should proceed.
When the two current Republican commissioners voted to oppose the FTC lawsuit against Facebook in December, Khan’s withdrawal would leave two Democrats to vote on a new lawsuit. A vote means the case will not go ahead.
In the petition, Facebook claimed that Khan’s work for the Open Markets Institute, a political lawyer group, and her academic writing and tweets showed that she had already reached legal conclusions that Facebook was responsible for violating antitrust laws.
When asked by Republican Senator Mike Lee during her affirmative hearing in the Senate in April whether she should withdraw from investigations related to Facebook and other Big Tech companies, Khan said she had none of the economic conflicts or personal ties that are the basis of revocation under federal ethics. lion. She said at the time that she would seek guidance from FTC ethics officials if the problem arose.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz and Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Steve Orlofsky and Howard Goller)