Biden names Google critic Kanter as Justice Dept antitrust chief

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden nominated lawyer Jonathan Kanter as the Justice Department’s antitrust chief on Tuesday in the latest sign that the White House is determined to rein in the world’s biggest corporations, especially Big Tech.

© Reuters/CARLOS BARRIA FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden departs after giving a briefing at the White House in Washington

In nominating Kanter, the White House called him “a leading advocate and expert in the effort to promote strong and meaningful antitrust enforcement and competition policy”.

Progressives who advocate tougher enforcement of antitrust law have pushed for the nomination of Kanter, who recently started his own law firm, Kanter Law Group LLP. He has spent years working for smaller rivals of Alphabet’s Google, which the Justice Department has sued.

The Biden administration previously chose two antitrust progressives with tech expertise, Tim Wu for the National Economic Council and Lina Khan to be a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission.

Sarah Miller, executive director of the American Economic Liberties Project, said Kanter “has crafted many of the most successful legal arguments driving the major antitrust investigations into Big Tech”.

Kanter, who previously worked for Paul, Weiss, Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP and two other big law firms, will take the reins of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division amid calls for tougher enforcement overall, with special criticism aimed at Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple.

Kanter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

If confirmed, the Justice Department Antitrust Division under Kanter will likely play a key role in implementation of the Biden executive order that is aimed at promoting competition across the U.S. economy.

In addition to suing Google, the Justice Department is also investigating Apple.

The Federal Trade Commission shares the job of antitrust enforcement with the Justice Department.

(Reporting by Nandita BoseEditing by Mark Heinrich and Marguerita Choy)