Biden’s New FTC Chair Could Be a Big Web 3.0 Ally

Yesterday, the Biden administration named Lina Khan, a 32-year-old Columbia Law professor, as the brand new head of the Federal Trade Commission. Khan, who would be the youngest FTC head ever, is called a fierce critic of massive tech monopolies like Amazon. While there’s typically a knee-jerk resistance to regulation and regulators amongst blockchain advocates, Khan’s considerations make her a potential ally on huge points like privateness. Her antimonopoly work might additionally create substantial market alternatives for brand new sorts of tech companies – together with these constructing decentralized techniques and “Web 3.0.”

David Morris is CoinDesk’s Chief Insights Columnist. This article is excerpted from The Node, CoinDesk’s day by day roundup of essentially the most pivotal tales in blockchain and crypto information. You can subscribe to get the complete newsletter here.

Enforcing U.S. antitrust regulation is a main a part of the FTC’s mandate, and Khan might be greatest identified for serving to redefine simply what a “monopoly” is. She has been essential, together with throughout seven years on the Open Markets Institute, in growing and selling the concept a firm could be a monopoly even when its practices drive prices down – even, the truth is, if its product is free to customers. That principle largely hinges on how the companies collect and use knowledge: Khan has been among the many loudest critics of the way in which Amazon makes use of knowledge gathered by its storefront, akin to by leveraging sales data to compete with third-party sellers who’re, a minimum of buyers, its prospects.

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Khan might also have a larger likelihood of advancing her personal legislative and regulatory agenda than another members of the Biden administration. At essentially the most divisive second in American politics because the Nineteen Sixties, Big Tech has managed the neat trick of bringing everybody from the progressive Left to the Trump-nationalist Right collectively in shared hatred and worry. Khan’s personal affirmation was bipartisan, with the Senate voting in favor of her 69-28. 

That bipartisanship will likely be examined by looming laws that might severely reshape the tech business, which is coming quick and livid in both houses of Congress. An enormous bipartisan Senate package contains a knowledge portability provision of specific curiosity to Web 3.0 tasks, as a result of it might erode Facebook’s skill to lock prospects into its walled-garden model of the web. Such a mandate might additionally create new demand for a distributed platform for social knowledge.

Such measures are steps towards unwinding the surveillance economy that has allowed firms like Google and Facebook to leverage community results to construct the brand new form of data monopoly that Khan helped diagnose. That unwinding would, to no matter modest diploma, assist individuals retake some management of their private knowledge and privateness. Just as essential, the antitrust components of Khan’s agenda might create more room for small startups pursuing novel concepts – nearly definitely together with extra experimentation with privacy-preserving knowledge buildings and enterprise fashions.

But now that she’s in control of the FTC, antitrust shouldn’t be Khan’s solely precedence: The FTC additionally typically performs an essential position in combating misleading funding schemes. In specific, I’ve been writing fairly a bit currently about a new wave of celebrity crypto endorsements, a few of which can have been undisclosed paid promotions. It’s the FTC’s job to cease such touting exercise, however current actions have been gradual and reactive, creating an environment of permissiveness. More aggressive enforcement of these guidelines might assist maintain more cash in reliable tasks, advancing the timeline for actual alternate options to the tech monopolies.

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