Under chair Lina Khan, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken a lot of heat for trying to be aggressive in its approach to regulating tech companies and preventing monopolies. Now the FTC is facing criticism from both Republicans in Congress and very online Xbox fans for appealing a recent court decision that gave Microsoft the greenlight to finish its acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
After losing a preliminary injunction to block the $69 billion merger while it was under review, the FTC filed an appeal on July 12 with the Ninth Circuit. It’s since also requested a stay from the Northern District Court of California to prevent the deal from closing until the appeal is ruled on, as the acqusition’s July 18 deadline looms. “Your tax dollars at work,” tweeted Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, who was previously a longtime corporate VP at Microsoft.
Republicans in Congress took a similar stance. Testifying during an oversight hearing, Khan was hammered by GOP Representatives for pursuing too many antitrust cases and losing many of them. “You seem to be losing quite a bit, and I don’t say that to be disrespectful, but these are, after all, taxpayer funds,” Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Ca.) said during the hearing (via IGN).
He continued, “The court not only rejected your assertion of a likely anti-competitive effect but found just the opposite. The record evidence points to more consumer access. So why should Americans have faith in your judgment when this Biden-appointed judge says you’re so far off the mark?” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), meanwhile, called Kahn a bully for trying to prevent Microsoft from gaining an advantage over its Japanese competitor, Sony.
It didn’t take long for some of the loudest voices in the Xbox community to pile on. “Lina Khan is getting Fried, Roasted, Cooked and Buttered,” wrote influencer UniSensei, retweeting hearing footage like it was an E3 press conference. “OUCH! Maybe keep consumers and competitive markets a priority, and not a political line and you won’t get cooked, Khan,” tweeted YouTuber Colteastwood.
An antitrust scholar appointed to the FTC by President Biden in 2021, Khan was simple and unphased in her responses. “We fight hard when we believe there was a law violation, and unfortunately things don’t always go our way,” she said during the hearing. That is, after all, the agency’s mandate, regardless of what fans, executives, or politicians it might upset.