His role, focusing on competition policy, will be a new one on the National Economic Council. Mr. Wu will also focus on competition in labor policies, such as non-compete obligations enforced by companies and the concentration of power in agriculture and the pharmaceutical industry. The job does not require approval from the Senate.
Mr. Biden has yet to nominate candidates to officially head the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the Federal Trade Commission – the main agencies overseeing competition in trade. Progressives have fought vigorously to appoint left-wing advocates like Mr. Wu to those who have worked in the past for the technology companies and law firms they represent.
“Tim was a longtime antitrust attorney and he’s been pushing officials to divorce Big Tech and contain it,” Massachusetts Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren said in a statement. “I’m happy to see him in this role.”
Mr. Wu has left academia at various times to work in government. He was Special Adviser to the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 and 2012, and then joined the National Economic Council to work on competition policy during the Obama administration, known for treating tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon with child gloves. Mr. Wu has since expressed some regret.
“I worked in the Obama administration and I worked in antitrust law, so I’m going to take some personal guilt here, but we haven’t given the merger supervision we should have,” said Wu said in an interview at Aspen Ideas Festival in 2019. He added that “maybe we’ve had an overly rosy view at times” of the tech field.
Relatively unbridled by regulation, these companies expanded significantly through mergers and acquisitions during President Barack Obama’s two terms in office. Mr. Wu has been speaking about the linchpin of many Democrats since those days, realizing that the tech giants have failed to deliver on promises to protect user data, treat small competitors fairly, and eradicate misinformation from their platforms.
Mr. Wu is best known for advocating for powerful telecommunications companies and for coining the term “net neutrality,” the regulatory philosophy that consumers should have equal access to all content on the Internet. More recently, he has turned his attention to the gatekeepers – like Facebook, Google, and Amazon – that dominate language, search, and online retail.