Why Did Tom MacArthur Sell Out Our Internet Privacy?

This letter was submitted to the Burlington County Times on 4/2/17

To The Editor:

Tom MacArthur, our congressional representative in the 3rd District, just voted to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to capture and sell our private internet browsing history without asking for permission from us to do so. I challenge Rep. MacArthur to explain why this vote has any benefit to his constituents and why it is indeed not harmful.

Protecting the privacy of private citizens should be a bipartisan issue. Democratic, Republican & unaffiliated residents each care as much as the other about not allowing ISPs to collect and sell our private information.

Proponents of this rushed through legislation argue that tech companies such as Google and Facebook are already able to collect marketing data and that ISPs should be able to do this same. This is a specious argument. The internet is the new landline and ISPs are the new “Ma Bell”. Can you imagine allowing Ma Bell to sell the data of everybody your household made phone calls to? ISPs have even more power than Ma Bell ever did. Our internet service providers see all of our internet activity including our emails, where we bank, which credit cards we have, what our secret and not so secret interests are, and everywhere we shop. Regulating their ability to sell us out is common sense.

Google and Facebook and the like are different. They see only what we choose for them to see when we choose to us their services, and there are relatively easy steps to take to have them see nothing. On another day, when we have a Congress that is looking out for our interests, addressing stronger privacy protections with search engines and websites is a good idea. Right now, equating the intrusion power of ISPs with sites like Google and Facebook muddies the water with a fruit salad of specious apples and oranges. ISP regulation belongs in the hands of the FCC and Congress, with their special interests, should have stayed out.

How on earth did we get here? I challenge our representative in Congress to explain why he, Tom MacArthur, voted against protecting the privacy of the citizens of the 3 rd , while I wonder to myself what benefit he personally received for doing so. This vote was not for our benefit.

This letter was written by Andrea Barton Gurney, a 20 year resident of Cinnaminson NJ.