Facebook has followed Amazon's lead in seeking the recusal of Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Lina Khan from any deliberations that could result in the agency filing antitrust cases against the company.
In the recusal petition filed with the FTC yesterday, Facebook argued that "Chair Khan has consistently made public statements not only accusing Facebook of conduct that merits disapproval but specifically expressing her belief that the conduct meets the elements of an antitrust offense … When a new commissioner has already drawn factual and legal conclusions and deemed the target a lawbreaker, due process requires that individual to recuse herself."
The FTC has not commented on the facebook petition, nor the similar one filed two weeks ago by Amazon.
The Journal points out that there is a sense of urgency in the Facebook petition: "The FTC soon must decide whether to file a new antitrust lawsuit against Facebook after a judge threw out the FTC’s previous complaint as legally insufficient. Because of the approaching deadlines in the case—the judge’s June 28 ruling gave the FTC 30 days to file an amended lawsuit—it could force Ms. Khan to confront the recusal issue on an accelerated timeline."
- KC's View:
What a bunch of whiney babies.
Here's the deal. When someone is appointed to the FTC, especially as chair, the odds are pretty good that a) they're going to know something about antitrust law and precedent, b) they're going to have an informed opinion about it, and c) they will have expressed themselves on the issues.
So here's what Amazon and Facebook need to do. Knock off the recusal petitions (which, when you think about it, probably only are being filed so they can be made reference to in the inevitable appeals of any decision that goes against them), and start spending some time trying to convince Khan and the FTC that they are wrong in their previously held positions. Make your case. Be persuasive. And stop the freakin' whining.
Their problem isn't that Khan has a previously held and stated position. It's that her previously held and stated position is unfriendly to their prospects. If she'd been supportive of Facebook and Amazon, they'd have no problem with her, and would argue against her recusal.
I think that Khan has a very interesting position on how antitrust needs to be rethought for 21st century realities, and I'm curious to see how the arguments will play out on both sides. Trying to get rid of her (which, by the way, won't work) would deprive the public of what hopefully will be a spirited and nuanced policy discussion.
Maybe I'm just getting cranky, but man, these high tech business people (and their lawyers) are beginning to annoy me.