Lina Khan, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner designate for US President Joe Biden, speaks during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, DC, US, Wednesday, April 21, 2021.
Graeme Jennings | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Antitrust enforcement, rather than lack thereof, can better position the United States to stay ahead of China in the race to build cutting-edge technology, the Federal Trade Commission chairwoman said Wednesday. , Lina Khan, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
The tech industry often points to the threat of China catching up with American technologies as an argument against more aggressive enforcement against them. For example, after the FTC proposed to ban Meta to monetize children’s data for allegedly violating a prior confidentiality agreement, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted in part that this was an example of the FTC trying to “isolate an American company while allowing Chinese companies, like Tik Tok, to operate without constraint on American soil. The FTC also has a confidentiality agreement in place from 2019 with TikTok over alleged violations.
Khan said Wednesday that lessons from the past suggest more aggressive domestic enforcement will actually benefit the United States internationally.
“What history and experience has shown us is what best positions the United States to be competitive internationally, to stay ahead internationally, is to make sure we We’re a hotbed of innovation,” Khan said in an interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin. “And what best produces breakthrough innovations, breakthrough technologies, is competition. I think we’ve seen time and time again monopolies and incumbents say they need to preserve their monopoly to ensure that the United States stays ahead. But historically, the United States has rather enforced competition laws, enforced antitrust and that’s what led us to be the home of cutting-edge technology.”
Khan gave an example of two landmark technology antitrust cases in the last century, those of IBM And AT&T. In the case of AT&T, Khan noted that the government’s requirement that the telecommunications company open its “patent vault … has led to decades and decades of innovation.”
“I think we’ve seen that Silicon Valley was born out of strong competition and the enforcement of antitrust laws,” Khan added. “And so I think we have to be wary of arguments that it’s really monopoly that will best position us to thrive internationally when we’ve seen time and time again the opposite.”
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