This week, the Federal Communications Commission proposed allowing broadband companies to charge websites in exchange for faster service lanes. This ruling, according to experts, will effectively end net neutrality, a set of rules that allows websites to enjoy an open-ended, democratic flow of traffic. And if this is true, it's very bad news for the Internet, essentially clogging World Wide Web traffic with chain store-equivalent websites and keeping the voices and videos of smaller competitors down. Say goodbye to the Mom-and-Pop shops, because your web browser is on its way to becoming a Walmart.

Yesterday, the FCC said that they'll be proposing new rules regarding how high-speed Internet providers regulate web traffic, most notably proposing that companies would make things like streaming videos work faster and more smoothly for websites that pay more. Netfix, for instance, has already struck a deal with Comcast to get faster streaming so millions of subscribers don't have to wait for the next episode of Fringe to buffer, or whatever. And without net neutrality, websites with cash to burn—YouTube, Hulu, Facebook, Fox News, what have you—would be able to provide better quality and faster service, while bloggers, start-ups and the like will eventually lose web traffic, dying a slow, sad URL death.

The FCC insists it isn't dumping the old Open Internet policy in favor of better bankroll for broadband companies. "There is no ‘turnaround in policy,’ ” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement yesterday. “The same rules will apply to all Internet content. As with the original open Internet rules, and consistent with the court’s decision, behavior that harms consumers or competition will not be permitted.” But all that really means is that every website will have the opportunity to pay the ISP companies, and not every site can afford that.

"If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst,” Todd O’Boyle, program director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, told the Times. “Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes and censorship — corporate or governmental.”

Even if you're not a blogger or trying to jump-start your own site, this is bad news. Aside from the fact that money will likely dictate what online information is delivered to you, there's a good chance the end of net neutrality will correlate with higher costs from pay-to-view sites. After all, if a site like Netflix—which has already announced a planned subscription increase—has to pay more to stream faster, you can bet they'll charge subscribers more to cover those costs.

The FCC hasn't set this proposal in stone yet; it'll be released for public comment next month, and will be voted on by a full commission by the end of 2014. Enjoy democratic web freedom while it lasts.