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US Senate appoints Google critic as antitrust chief

The US Senate has approved the appointment of prominent Google critic Jonathan Kanter as head of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

US Senate appoints Google critic as antitrust chief
Photograph: Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash.

Kanter will lead the US government’s pending antitrust lawsuit against Google, who are being sued on grounds of illegally monopolising the search market. The case was filed during the Trump administration and has been inherited by the Biden administration.

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), herself a proponent of tougher antitrust laws, described Kanter as “a leader in the effort to increase antitrust enforcement against monopolies by federal, state, and international competition authorities.”

“Now that he has been confirmed by the Senate, I look forward to working together to ensure that the Antitrust Division fulfils its mission to vigorously enforce the antitrust laws, protect consumers, and promote competition throughout our economy,” she said.

Kanter has received crossbench approval for his new role, with several Republican senators including Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) voting in favour of Kanter’s appointment. Grassley and Lee are members of the Judiciary Committee and its antitrust committee, respectively.

Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), however, was the sole member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote against the appointment. He said that whilst he shared some of Kanter’s concerns regarding Big Tech and supported legislation to curb its influence, “the DOJ’s Antitrust Division is much broader than just dealing with Big Tech.”

“I share Mr. Kanter’s goal of making sure that markets do work for the American people, but I don’t support undercutting important antitrust legal principles in the service of short-term political goals,” Cornyn said referring to Kanter’s advocacy of using antitrust enforcement statutes to enforce labour rights.

Kanter is a career lawyer who between 2007 and 2016 was a partner at law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft before founding his own law firm, Kanter Law Group, in 2020.

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