Jeff Bezos just got a powerful new enemy.
Less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that states had a right to collect sales taxes from Internet retails - a ruling that was interpreted as a shot across Amazon's bow - a prominent Amazon critic has joined the staff of the Federal Trade Commission, suggesting that the major anti-trust action that media pundits described as a "long shot" could very well happen. According to Bloomberg, the FTC has hired Lina Khan, the director of legal policy at Washington think tank Open Markets Institute, who will serve as a legal fellow for the next few months for FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra as the agency prepares to "increase anti-trust scrutiny of technology firms."
Khan has gained widespread notoriety thanks to her trenchant criticisms of Amazon. As a student at Yale Law School, she wrote a paper for the Yale Law Journal entitled "Amazon's Antitrust Paradox", in which she argued that the modern anti-trust enforcement framework isn't equipped to challenge Amazon's dominance and the harm it poses to competition. Her work was cited by the head of the DOJ's antitrust division in a speech in April as an example of "fresh thinking" about how the DOJ can hold digital platforms accountable. Khan has appeared on panels to argue her view that Amazon and other technology giants in the online retail space threaten competitive markets.
Khan is joining the FTC at a particularly auspicious time: FTC Chairman Joe Simons has said the agency is planning to host a series of public hearings later this year focused on competition policy and anti-trust, with a focus on the online economy.
I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2018
From the looks of it, the FTC has heard the president's complaints about Jeff Bezos putting "many thousands of retailers out of business."