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Biden looks to former Obama staffers, Amazon and Google advisers, for top antitrust roles

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Enforcement of antitrust laws is supposedly one of the priorities of the Biden administration, but Big Tech critics needn’t get too excited. According to Reuters, the administration is eyeing several people for the top antitrust jobs at the US Department of Justice, including two former officials in the Obama administration and past Big Tech defenders.

One of the front runners for the job is Juan Arteaga. He worked in the Department of Justice in the Obama administration between 2013 and 2017, as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Enforcement. He has also worked in the private sector and advised companies such as AT&T and JP Morgan.

According to the report, the administration is looking to have a team working on antitrust issues, and Arteaga could be their top choice.

The other front-runner is Renata Hesse, who has been on and off the DOJ since 2002. She served as the Acting Assistant Attorney General from mid-2016 to January 2017 under the Obama administration.

However, there is a potential conflict of interest as she has previously worked for or advised some of the Big Tech companies accused of engaging in antitrust, including Google and Amazon. The DOJ sued Google for dominating the search and advertising market in October last year.

According to the sources, another person under consideration is Jonathan Kanter, who ran the antitrust department at Paul Weiss, a renowned law firm. He is at least somewhat of a critic of Google and other Big Tech companies.

Antitrust “enforcement” is being touted as a priority for the Biden administration. On November 18, the transition team met with the DOJ, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and third-party moderate and progressive groups to discuss antitrust policy priorities.

According to the report, the parties discussed more aggressive antitrust enforcement, including bringing cases “even if you are going to lose.” The administration is also considering more funds for federal enforcement agencies such as the FTC, scrutinizing mergers, and revising competition laws but aren’t likely to be interested in tackling Big Tech’s control of the conversation.

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