Amazon asks for FTC head to step aside from antitrust probes

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Amazon is asking that the new head of the Federal Trade Commission step aside from antitrust investigations into the e-commerce giant, contending that her past public criticism of the company's market power makes it impossible for her to be impartial.

Amazon petitioned the agency Wednesday to remove Chair Lina Khan from taking part in current probes of the company's market conduct. Khan has been a fierce critic of tech giants Facebook, Google and Apple, as well as Amazon. She arrived on the antitrust scene in 2017, writing an influential study titled "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox" when she was a Yale law student.

FTC officials declined comment on Amazon's motion. The agency could be expected to respond formally at some point.

As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, Khan played a key role in a sweeping bipartisan investigation of the market power of the four tech giants.

President Joe Biden recently installed Khan as one of five commissioners and head of the FTC, signaling a tough stance toward Big Tech and its dominance. At 32, she is the youngest chair in the history of the agency, which polices competition and in industry generally, as well as digital privacy.

"Due process entitles all individuals and companies to fair consideration of the merits of any investigation or adjudication by impartial commissioners who have not—and, equally importantly, who do not appear to have—prejudged the issues against them," Seattle-based Amazon said in the motion.

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