US House Panel Critical of Twitter Privacy Investigation to Question FTC Chair at Hearing


US Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan is set to testify on July 13 before the House Judiciary Committee led by Republicans who have sharply criticized her leadership of the antitrust enforcement agency, the committee, and commission confirmed on Friday.

This will be her first appearance before the committee since Republicans assumed control.

Republicans have been especially critical of the FTC’s privacy investigation into Twitter since it was purchased by billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

In March, the FTC confirmed it was conducting an investigation into Twitter’s privacy practices. The agency has been concerned whether Twitter had the staffing to abide by a May 2022 settlement with the FTC in which it agreed to improve its privacy practices.

In April, the committee subpoenaed Khan for documents related to the Twitter privacy probe following Musk’s $44 billion (roughly Rs. 3,61,687 crore) purchase of the social media company in October.

House Judiciary Committee chair Jim Jordan suggested in a June 8 letter “there is an unjustified approximate one-year gap in the FTC’s actions with respect to Twitter” and added it was reasonable to conclude neither the prior chair nor Khan “seriously planned to take action against Twitter “until political pressure arose given Mr. Musk’s impending acquisition.”

Jordan in February also questioned the FTC’s plans to adopt a new rule to ban noncompete clauses for workers and its approach to the merger of Illumina and Grail.

San Diego-based Illumina, which specializes in gene sequencing, is appealing an FTC order that said the company’s $7.1 billion (roughly Rs. 58,200,830 crore) acquisition of Grail will curb competition in the cancer-testing market. Illumina has denied the allegations.

The FTC, which typically has five commissions including two from the minority party, currently has just three Democratic commissioners after Christine Wilson stepped down at the end of March.

Khan, an antitrust researcher focused on Big Tech’s immense market power, vowed to reinvigorate antitrust enforcement after she joined the FTC in June 2021 and was named chair.

This week the FTC sued accusing it of enrolling millions of consumers into its paid subscription Amazon Prime service without their consent and making it hard for them to cancel.

Politico first reported the plans for the hearing. 

© Thomson Reuters 2023 

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