WASHINGTON -- Facebook is asking that the new head of the Federal Trade Commission step away from decisions on whether to continue the agency's antitrust case against the social network giant, saying that past public criticism of the company's market power makes it impossible for her to be impartial.
Facebook Inc. petitioned the agency Wednesday to remove Chairwoman Lina Khan from taking part in decisions on the FTC's antitrust lawsuit against the company. A federal judge recently dismissed the suit by the FTC and one from a coalition of states, saying they didn't provide enough evidence to prove that Facebook is a monopoly in the social networking market. The judge, however, allowed the FTC to revise its complaint and try again.
Khan has been a persistent critic of Amazon, Google and Apple, as well as Facebook.
FTC officials declined comment on Facebook's motion, which was filed two weeks after Amazon requested that Khan be removed from taking part in antitrust investigations of that company. Khan has said that she would seek the opinion of FTC ethics monitors if issues arose of potential conflict of interest.
The requests from Facebook and Amazon were made as the four technology giants fall under extreme scrutiny and legislative pressure from the FTC, the Justice Department, European regulators, lawmakers in Washington, and, most recently, from an executive order from the White House.
"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 from related matters when acting in the capacity of an FTC commissioner," Facebook said in its petition. "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."
As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, Khan played a key role in an extensive bipartisan investigation of the market power of tech giants.