Net neutrality keeps the Web from running like an airport security line. And it might go away.

Let’s talk about the end of net neutrality in terms of a hellscape everyone knows: airport security lines. Imagine Verizon and Comcast are running the security lines—and websites and services are the ones trying to get through. With net neutrality, all those sites pass through at the same speed. But of course, airport security these days is all about a pecking order. There’s regular security and there’s the faster “TSA Pre” line. Then at many airports, if you pay extra there’s a “Clear” line, a “priority” line for pilots and first-class passengers, and even a super-fast celebrity line that comes with organic seaweed snacks (really). Without the neutrality rules, Internet providers could set up their own fast lanes—meaning certain websites could buy first-class treatment, while others are stuck in cattle class. Providers could sell Internet service in packages, like cable-TV bundles. Service providers would also have the right to set up their own no-fly lists, blocking certain websites that they don’t like or compete with their own business.  For you, certain websites could slow to a crawl. Or perhaps they wouldn’t show up at all. The problem isn’t what happens to Silicon Valley companies who can afford special treatment. The deepest impact will be invisible: small businesses stuck in the slow lane. We could lose what what makes the Internet so useful in the first place. Without net neutrality, many new ideas just won’t ever take flight.


Net neutrality keeps the Web from running like an airport security line. And it might go away. The FCC is about to make the Internet as much fun as being in line at the airport (video)