Another potential loss of freedom

Commentary: Still time to fight for Net Neutrality

You can find almost anything on the internet. Anything you might want to buy, anything you want to learn about and nearly every point of view is represented. Without Net Neutrality we may not have this for long. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has issued a policy that would allow internet companies to charge different rates for different users.

With Net Neutrality currently everything on the internet operates at the same speed and all websites have the same chance to be seen. The internet has in many ways been treated like a utility, like water, gas, or electricity. There is one price for everything and everything goes at the same speed.

The water in my faucet flows at the same speed and has the same pressure as the factory down the street. If you go to Google and type in car repair, Dunkirk, N.Y., you will find the websites of several local car repair shops. They will appear in order of popularity but they will all show up and they will all load at the same speed.

Without Net Neutrality some may be cut out or slowed down. Right now Juliet’s Garage (a one person shop with one lift) shows up in the same result as the Mega Car’s Garage (six lifts and a dozen employees). You can click on them and Juliet’s Garage would open at the same speed as Mega Car’s.

The new rules will allow Google to offer the websites at different speeds, and to leave things out that they don’t like. Mega Cars would pay to be downloaded in five seconds and Juliet’s Garage would take five minutes, if it even shows up in the search.

If we want to become a manufacturing society again we have to come up with new products. The free exchange of ideas and experiences fosters creativity. The solar powered picnic cooler is a perfect example. Yes, we can use the power of the sun to cool things down as well as heat things up. Backyard inventors are working on a cooler prototype. They are making home videos of the different designs. Right now these videos run at the same speed as the Ice Lobby’s videos. Without Net Neutrality the ice lobby could easily kill the invention. All they need to do is keep creators apart from each other and make sure new techniques don’t become common knowledge. People build on each others work. Humans need other humans. Without working together inventions evolve more slowly if they come at all.

Businesses are not the only things that will be impacted by the loss of Net Neutrality. It reaches deeply into our lives and the way we think about things. A handmade video of someone talking about using meditation to relax is as available to us as the drug companies advice to use opioids. The entire idea of using meditation instead of medication could simply be erased from the public discourse.

The fact that I can even bring up these concerns proves that we live in a (relatively) free society. Now we must be vigilant and keep our freedom. Keep Net Neutrality. Congress has the ability to reverse the FCC policy. For 60 legislative days, from the time of the ruling, Congress can use the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC policy. Call Tom Reed. His Jamestown office number is 708-6369. Tell him how important Net Neutrality is to our ability to plan for the future and make a better world for our children.

Marie Tomlinson is a Fredonia resident.