A couple of hours ago the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to kill net neutrality. Yes, this has actually happened. The internet was more or less a level-playing field in the ’90s and during the Dubya and Obama administrations. That’s over now — it’s no longer considered a utility like water or electricity, the big guys are running the shots, and bit by bit consumers are going to have to adapt to increasing effects of corporate authoritarianism.

It won’t happen overnight, but things are gradually going to become more and more benignly Orwellian and less open-rangey. The Obama-era regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or offering preferential treatment to bucks-up interests are history. The rules that until today stood against the all-but-complete corporate takeover of online content and to some extent discourse have been tossed.

In a 11.29.17 N.Y. Times piece, columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote that “when the rules go, the internet will still work, but it will look like and feel like something else altogether — a network in which business development deals, rather than innovation, determine what you experience, a network that feels much more like cable TV than the technological Wild West that gave you Napster and Netflix.”

FCC chairman and Trump lackey Ajit Pai said killing net neutrality “would gradually help consumers because broadband providers like AT&T and Comcast could offer people a wider variety of service options,” according to a 12.14 N.Y. Times piece by Cecilia Kang. “We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

Killing net neutrality is essentially about allowing corporate forces to make more money and, if they choose, to selectively discourage or suppress certain forms of content or discourse. This is a huge, huge deal, and most U.S. citizens are still saying, “Uhm, what exactly does net neutrality mean again?”