Big Tech critic Jonathan Kanter to lead DOJ antitrust division

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The U.S. Senate confirmed noted Big Tech critic and competition lawyer Jonathan Kanter to Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division, another win for progressives looking to push competition reform.

Kanter was nominated for the role by President Joe Biden in July, with the Senate confirming the pick in a bipartisan 68-29 vote on Tuesday, reports The Wall Street Journal.

After a start with the Federal Trade Commission, Kanter spent some 20 years representing corporate clients including Microsoft and Yelp, which both lodged anti-competition cases against Google. The search giant currently faces an antirust lawsuit from the Justice Department. Apple is also in the DOJ's crosshairs, and Kanter previously worked for Apple Music competitor Spotify, reports CNBC.

It is unclear if Kanter will recuse himself from ongoing actions against Google, Apple and other firms that pose potential conflicts of interest, though he previously promised to convene with ethics officials if confirmed as the DOJ's antitrust chief. Even if sidelined, Kanter will be able to impact proceedings by appointing deputies who are aligned with his thinking on antitrust matters.

Today's confirmation marks the third major win for progressives eyeing a crackdown on tech industry heavyweights. In March, Big Tech critic Tim Wu was appointed to the National Economic Council, while antitrust scholar Lina Khan, who earned notoriety in calling for tighter industry regulation, was named chair of the Federal Trade Commission in June.

Kanter, Khan and Wu share viewpoints on a number of issues including the need for increased scrutiny of the wider tech sector.