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Arsene Wenger’s Career – In Privacy Laws and Tech


Friday the 20th of April, 2018 will live in the memory of many Arsenal fans for years to come. Arsene Wenger, the man who famously went from 'Arsene Who?' when he joined Arsenal from Nagoya Grampus Eight, to a legend in English football, announced he would not be managing Arsenal next season, for the first time in 22 years.

It’s been interesting hearing about all of the ways in which he brought 'cutting edge' changes to the club, and English football, which are now so common place you couldn't imagine a world without them. I heard an interview on Radio 5 from Robert Fagg, the head chef for roughly 20 of those years, who was talking about how he brought healthy eating (fish, grilled chicken, pasta) to the club, and how many other top clubs came to visit to see what Arsenal and Arsene had them doing differently. The idea of a top sports team eating anything other than that around match days seems ridiculous!

With all changes like this, you often reminisce and think of how the world has changed, and 22 years ago, the world was very different. In 1996, football was on its way home for the best summer of English football in 30 years, we had just been introduced to the Spice Girls and had had a new star from Australia explain how he wanted to get close to the 'Mysterious Girl'.

In some ways, though, things have stayed very much the same. Mission Impossible and Jumanji were both in the cinemas, and a new privacy directive was in the process of changing how we think of privacy.

The GDPR in itself is new, but it is aimed at replacing the wonderfully named 'Directive 95/46/EC' and harmonising all EU member states legislation into one regulation. Interestingly, Directive 95/46/EC (I'll call it by its less formal name, 'Data Protection Directive' from now on) was a formalisation into a directive for all EU member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Developments (OECD) seven principles on the protection of personal data, which were;

1.       Notice

2.       Purpose

3.       Consent

4.       Security

5.       Disclosure

6.       Access

7.       Accountability

Any of these sound vaguely familiar? If not, I suggest you ring us to talk about GDPR compliance going forwards!

One question I have asked myself is; with these principles being in place, why is the new change making so many waves?  I looked back over how the world has changed since BAW (Before Arsene Wenger) and there are a number of things that you can point to.

Just as Arsene Wenger has outlasted over 800  managers in English football, and 4 prime ministers, he also outlasted 3 amendments to the Data Protection Directive. These (2002/58/EC covering ePrivacy, 2006/24/EC covering data retention and 2009/136EC known as the Cookie Directive) changed the Data Protection Directive to protect against spam emails, data being held for too long, and Flash/Zombie cookies. These directives were written to try and future-proof the directives by being tool non-specific.

It is interesting when you view these directives and amendments at how massively the world of tech and the internet have changed since Arsene replaced Bruce Rioch all those years ago. When using the internet in 1996, you would have had a 28k or 33.6k modem; the homepage of our website would have taken 89.3 seconds to load!  Bearing in mind that many super-fast broadband vendors now provide 28 mbps (I know I have clocked mine at home at nearer 60!) and that's a massive factor of change in 22 years.  Add this to the size and speed changes of data storage (there’s a nice article from a few years ago on Wired about it taking 6 standard 1.44 mb floppy disks to hold their homepage), and you can understand how the directives and regulations need to change rapidly, and be written as focused on the future as possible, to protect individuals’ privacy interests. In 1996, the idea of real time bidding, at a sub-second speed, or retargeting of banner ads, would have seemed ridiculous.

So, to wrap up, thank you Mr Wenger. Your time in the Premier League has led to so many changes in our game, and coincided with major changes to the world too.