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Big Tech critic Tim Wu joins the Biden administration to work on competition policy

Timothy Wu, professor of law at Columbia University, testifies at a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Big Tech critic and antitrust hawk Tim Wu joins the Biden administration to work on technology and competition policy in the National Economic Council, he announced Friday.

The lease signals that the Biden administration is serious about competition policy and is likely to be seen positively among progressives, hoping to see greater enforcement of antitrust laws, especially against tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Wu̵

7;s writing has played an important role in promoting the idea that large technology companies need to break up in order to revive competition, especially through his 2018 book, “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.”

Wu has helped shape some of the most important debates around technology in the last decade. He coined the term “net neutrality” to describe the idea that ISPs should not differentiate between different types of online communication. The Federal Communications Commission created a net neutrality rule under Obama, which was reversed during the next administration, although Biden’s FCC was able to revive the rule again.

Wu has recently taught monopoly law at Columbia University and previously worked at New York’s law firm, the Federal Trade Commission and at the NEC under President Barack Obama.

However, Biden has not yet filled the best antitrust enforcement roles in its administration. His election to the FTC and the Department of Justice Antitrust Division will either reinforce the idea that he is ready to crack down on tech companies and the concentration of power, or undermine it. News reports on Biden’s potential choices for these roles have driven the color scale between progressives in line with Wu’s views on competition for those who have gone on to work for or advise the technology companies themselves, which critics fear would be too lenient for them.

Improving the regulation of technology companies has been a rare unifying issue between Democrats and Republicans for the past few years. When the House Democrats came out last year with their lengthy report on the alleged anti-competitive behavior of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, several key Republicans said they agreed with the main allegations in the report if not the exact proposed legislative changes it contained.

It has also been a common thread between Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump, during which the DOJ and the FTC filed competition cases against Google and Facebook, respectively. It is expected that the Biden administration will continue these lawsuits and may even extend their scope.

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