Jonathan Kanter – Is Someone Finally Standing Up To Big Tech?
President Joe Biden this week nominated Jonathan Kanter to head the Justice Department’s antitrust division as the agency gears up for a crackdown on large technology companies.
Lawmakers of both parties celebrated the nomination.
“For years, Jonathan Kanter has been a leader in the effort to increase antitrust enforcement against monopolies by federal, state, and international competition authorities,” said Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). “His deep legal experience and history of advocating for aggressive action make him an excellent choice.”
Kanter, 47, worked as an antitrust lawyer for the FTC. He then joined international law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. He founded his own firm, Kanter Law Group, in 2020.
As a lawyer, Kanter represented Microsoft, Yelp, and other parties in lawsuits against Google’s parent company Alphabet. Like newly-confirmed FTC head Lina Khan, Kanter also believes government must take action to police Big Tech’s anticompetitive/monopolistic conduct.
“Antitrust enforcement is barely on life support,” said Kanter in 2016 (during the Obama Administration). “When was the last time you can remember a major antitrust agency bringing a monopolization case? The reason you can’t remember it is because they haven’t done it.”
If approved by lawmakers, Kanter will take control of the antitrust division as it moves forward with a monopoly lawsuit against Google and an investigation into Apple’s unfair app store practices.
In his new position, Kanter will have complete authority over future lawsuits filed to stop mergers and challenge anticompetitive behavior.
Lawmakers are preparing for the showdown with legislation that will make it easier for the DOJ and FTC to enforce antitrust laws, though it’s possible Google will ask Kanter to recuse himself from the case given his work for the site’s rivals.
Facebook has called on Khan to recuse herself from the FTC’s monopoly case against the site’s acquisition of Instagram (2012) and WhatsApp (2014) based on past statements.
Author’s Note: Kanter seems to be a solid choice. His views are backed by lawmakers of both parties and he is widely respected in the legal community.