Lina Khan Advances In FTC Bid, Biden Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity, And Commits To Combatting Extremism

Lina Khan continues toward FTC role, Biden makes cybersecurity order after Colonial Pipeline, and U.S. joins the Christchurch call.

Lina Khan Advances In FTC Bid, Biden Signs Executive Order On Cybersecurity, And Commits To Combatting Extremism
Lina Khan continues bid for lead on FTC

May 13, 2021—The Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance Lina Khan’s nomination despite pushback from a handful of Republican committee members.

President Joe Biden tapped the associate professor of law at Columbia Law School to be a Commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission back in March. Khan is a well-known critic of Big Tech and is a prominent figure in antitrust circles.

While Democrats unanimously approved Khan, four of the 12 Republicans voted against her nomination. This is a departure from the partisan divide that resulted from the Senate Banking Committee’s vote in March, which was divided completely along party lines — with 12 Republicans voting against and 12 Democrats voting in favor.

Even though her criticism of Big Tech appears to have gained her some heavyweight conservative supporters such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the age of 32, some Republicans have noted that she lacks the experience necessary to lead the FTC.

Both Cruz and ranking minority leader Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi, indicated that they would look forward to working with Khan.

Biden makes cybersecurity executive order on day Colonial Pipeline comes online

On Wednesday, Joe Biden signed an executive order on improving the U.S.’s cybersecurity capabilities, following the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack and the SolarWinds breach in December 2020.

The order will establish a cybersecurity review board that will be made up of both private and public sector employees, and they will be tasked not only with analyzing cyberattacks, but also creating a playbook for how to address such attacks.

Additionally, the order will lower existing barriers to information sharing and is designed to better leverage private/public relationships with information and operational technology firms.

On the same day, Colonial Pipeline began to come back online, after being besieged for six days. The attack represented one of the largest cyberattacks on infrastructure in U.S. history.

Despite claiming that their goals were purely financial, the hacker group responsible, DarkSide, wreaked havoc with the attack.

The average price of gas jumped to three dollars for the first time in seven years, according to ABC News, and gas stations all across the south eastern U.S. were running out of gas thanks to the shortage and panic buying. As of the morning of May 13, 71 percent of gas stations in North Carolina were still out of fuel.

Biden administration announces that it plans to join the anti-extremism pledge

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced last week that the U.S. would join the “Christchurch call,” a pledge designed to demonstrate a commitment to combating online extremist content.

The pledge is named after the massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand, when in 2019 a white supremacist killed 51 people in an attack that targeted two mosques.

While the Trump administration declined to commit to the pledge, the Biden administration stated that it would, and without curtailing free speech. The Biden administration has taken the position that more speech is the best antidote to extremism.

“Put simply, we remain of the view that the preferred way to defeat terrorist and violent extremist speech is more speech: to counter it with credible, alternative narratives that promote rather than restrict free expression,” Ned Price, the Department of State’s spokesperson, said in a statement.

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