University Times

FCC Keep Internet Free

Ready Player One’s narrative is an allegory on the end of Net Neutrality.

J. Aaron Delgado, Managing Editor

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While Steven Spielberg’s latest film “Ready Player One” remains a hit with audiences through it’s highlight of 80’s nostalgia, popular electronic media and pop culture, it is hard to ignore how the film parallels the current climate of Net Neutrality.

In 2015, the Obama administration placed regulations that would give the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broad power over internet providers. This act would prohibit the practices of internet service providers (ISP) from discriminating against any lawful content by blocking websites or apps, slowing the transmission of data based on the type of content, and creating an internet “fast lane” for consumers and companies who pay premiums This, in turn, creates a slow lane for those who do not pay.

On December 14, 2017 the FCC repealed the Net Neutrality Act, which would allow ISPs to potentially start using those previously prohibited predatory practices by charging consumers and companies for them.

  Based on the novel by Ernest Cline of the same title, “Ready Player One” tackles these issues with protagonist Wade Watts “Parzival” answering the hero’s call. When the creator of the virtual reality world the “Oasis” dies, he sends out an array of challenges to all the users, that upon completion, would give them total control over the world. At the same time, Innovative Online Industries (IOI), a major video game product manufacturer, seeks control over the Oasis and acquire Watts and his colleague “Art3mis”. They both refuse to join IOI, and Watts starts a call to arms for all Oasis users to stand with him to fight against the predatory company and join him on the fight against IOI.

Ernest Cline, the novel’s author, found his story “Ready Player One” almost as a “self-fulfilling prophecy” since it was published in the same month as the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset in 2011.

“Imagining the future is dangerous…because it can go either way,” said Cline.

Even though the story may not be a direct message against the net neutrality phenomenon since the novel was published in 2011, the story of “Ready Player One” draws strong allegories to the current climate. This is demonstrated in the story with a major organization in the industry trying to control a virtual world, which can be drawn to the FCC and ISPs taking control of the internet in the U.S. many of its users standing up against this major organization to keep this virtual world free.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai defended the repeal even before the 3-to-2 majority vote by stating the rolling back on rules would benefit consumers in the long run with ISPs offering wider service options.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” said Pai. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

Since the overturn of net neutrality, many have spoken out on the topic; even 21 U.S. General State Attorneys have filed a suit challenging the FCC’s decisions.

“Internet access is a utility – just like water and electricity,” said Xavier Becerra, the California Attorney General. “Every consumer has a right to access online content without interference or manipulation by their internet service provider.”

It may be funny to think that that a film revolving around a videogame world could relate to the climate of net neutrality. Though it was not intended to take a jab at the subject, social commentary has followed and may continue to grow as net neutrality comes to an end on April 23. 

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