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Why Untold might be reaching the end of its time, and how we can influence the future.

By Tony Attwood

How we react to events is the key to everything. How we reacted at Wembley in supporting Arsenal in the semi-final and final, certainly made a difference.
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Likewise how we react to the threat to bring the internet in the UK under central government control will make a difference – at least if we use the internet to get and exchange ideas about football, or anything else.
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I don’t normally talk politics on Untold, but the proposed changes to internet regulation in the UK would seriously affect what we do. So as always it is all about how we react.  But let me start with an example from football – the fans behaviour at Wembley.

I was recently pointed to an article Why Wenger Won at Wembley from the website Bergkampesque.  It is a superb piece of writing and I’ve supplied a link to the piece at the end, but here is a short extract…

“I’m not saying that it’s all about the support.  And, most certainly it’s not all about rabid and blind support.  Hell, if that were true, Spurs would’ve won the league at some point over the last 50 years, including, perhaps, one of these last two.  What I’m suggesting is that–in a game with tiny margins–having true support matters.

“It matters because it creates an environment where good things can happen.  Supporting your team allows the players the ability to play the game as it comes to them instead of thinking of each touch in the context of the points at stake and the pressures inferred by such a perspective.  Each mistake shouldn’t be about the thousand tweets saying “not fit to wear the shirt” or some variation of it.  Instead, it should be about the lesson learned and how to improve upon it, with just such encouragement actually coming from the supporters.”

I wish I’d written that.

Such thoughts don’t really get expressed in the mainstream media because they have a story of their own.  Let me give an example from a different area.

Take the Telegraph headline today, “England hopes of hosting 2030 World Cup boosted by Uefa’s firm stance”.  There is no sense that this is a story about at best two corrupt and one incompetent organisations and the use of public money.   Indeed you’d never know from the article that the 2030 World Cup is run by (what appears from all the evidence to be) the most corrupt sporting organisation in the world, that Uefa has an awful lot to answer for, and that the FA’s reforms which removed the threat of government intervention were so incredibly small I doubt anyone can remember what they were, one month on.

But sleep-walking into the future doesn’t just happen in football.  The whole of the UK seems to be dong it – and this is the bit that most certainly could affect Untold, not because the government notices us, but because the Conservative Party manifesto makes it clear that it is planning to introduce huge regulations on the way the internet works, allowing the government to decide what is said online.  As their manifesto says, “Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet,” it states. “We disagree.”

The Party has confirmed to newspapers that the government intends to introduce huge restrictions on what people can post, share and publish online in a way that will allow Britain to become “the global leader in the regulation of the use of personal data and the internet”, the manifesto claims.  “The leader in the regulation of… the internet.”

In Britain we already have the “Investigatory Powers Act” which  allowed the government to force internet companies to keep records on their customers’ browsing histories, (so if you are in the UK  the government has a note that you are on Untold) as well as giving ministers the power to break apps like WhatsApp so that your messages can be read.

So what?  Untold is about football.  The government gets lots of income from taxing the Premier League, so it is not going to touch us is it?  Well, at the moment I’m spending a lot of my time trying to keep tabs on all the comments we get – which believe me is a huge task when added to editing and publishing the blog, and writing some of the articles.  And I am increasingly deleting comments, because the rolling news services that carry our headlines are themselves being threatened.

In a sense the issue is very much like this: Would you happily give government officials a copy of your front and back door keys and the right to enter anytime they wanted – knowing the level of cock up that all governments get into which means they might do over my house in North Farm Close, when they actually meant to do North Close.   A chance phrase said by an outraged commentator such as “you’re a ****ing t******* you are” in which the last word relates to a person who carries out appalling indiscriminate crimes in the name of a religion or political belief, could indeed lead to the powers that be climbing all over Untold – and me.  They won’t have the keys to my house, but they’ll have the passwords to this blog, and that’s it.  All over.

At the moment much of the internet is currently controlled by private businesses like Google and Facebook.  They intercept emails, shut down sites and cancel accounts, according to their own rules.  It’s far from perfect, but generally they look carefully first before cutting anyone off.

Theresa May intends to allow government to decide what is and isn’t published, the manifesto suggests.  The laws would also force technology companies to delete anything that a person posted when they were under 18.  And how am I supposed to check that?  Some of the anti-Wengerians who post here write as if they are under 12, but I’ve no idea if they are or not.

Under the Conservative manifesto (and if you think that because I am a dangerous lefty I am making this up, just go and read the Conservative manifesto) all bloggers (and I don’t blame you if you don’t believe this) will be forced to help controversial government schemes like its Prevent strategy, by promoting counter-extremist narratives.

Trouble is: what is extremist?  When I tried to raise the issue of how Fifa dealt with Israel’s actions over football in the occ*pi*d zones I got bombarded with hate mail.  Was I the extremist?  Were the correspondents?  As things stand I am cautious when mentioning football in Israel and Palestine.  If this is the route we are going down, that’s a subject that will be utterly off limits.  And my occasional remarks about Britain’s ally Qatar, its human rights record, and the world cup?

Now if you read my ramblings you’ll know I am left wing, but absolutely anti-terrorism, but I don’t normally talk about the terror, or about politics.  But that won’t matter, the manifesto says we will all have to adopt a counter-extremist narrative.  Which would be fun since I consider Qatar an extremist state.

In short the argument is that the online world must be regulated as strongly as the offline one, and that the same rules should apply in both.

Now the trouble is with this we don’t have an infrastructure in place to do it.  Occasionally, when a correspondent on Untold goes totally over the top and threatens me and my family with physical harm I intercept the post, and report that person to the authorities.  The law in England is that “if it is a crime when it happens face to face, it is a crime when written on the internet”.   The trouble is the last time I made a call to the police to report such a person, the officer taking my call said, “do you know their name and address?”  I said, “of course not, it was on the blog, but I have their IP address” (which allows one to trace where the comment was posted from).  “What’s an IP address?” said the officer.

And this is the front line of this new procedure.

The manifesto also proposes that internet companies will have to pay a levy, which will be used to pay for advertising schemes to tell people about the dangers of the internet, in particular being used to “support awareness and preventative activity to counter internet harms”.  That cost will of course be passed on to bloggers like Untold, and if it is high enough, will put us off line.  Bloggers won’t be able to afford to blog.

The manifesto also says that the party will regulate the kind of news that is posted online and the government will “take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy”.

In essence it means diverting the sort of adverting money that pours into Facebook and Google so that it is redirected back to the old enemies of the truth, the newspaper industry.  Which is why you probably haven’t seen too much about this part of the manifesto in the newspapers.

And for companies that don’t comply?   “We will introduce a sanctions regime to ensure compliance, giving regulators the ability to fine or prosecute those companies that fail in their legal duties, and to order the removal of content where it clearly breaches UK law,” the manifesto says.

“While we cannot create this framework alone, it is for government, not private companies, to protect the security of people and ensure the fairness of the rules by which people and businesses abide. Nor do we agree that the risks of such an approach outweigh the potential benefits.”

If you think that it is good that the current government should seize control of the internet in the UK, then you’ll be happy with this.  But would it really affect Untold?  I suspect so, because of our constant campaign against the government funded FA, against the government support for Fifa and its activities, against the refusal of the government to fund grass roots football properly…

Governments, once they have power, tend to use it indiscriminately.

Of course it it absolutely not for me to say who you might vote for.  But if you are an avid user of the internet, you might want to pick up the Conservative Party manifesto and consider what this government is going to do.  I wouldn’t bother looking in the newspapers about it – the only one that has run the story is the Independent – and that because it has stopped issuing a printed edition and is now just on line.

The approach of the fans at Wembley helped change the course of the semi-final and final matches.  Now it is up to the voters as to whether they want an open internet or not.

Theresa May to create new internet that would be controlled and regulated by government. (Independent)

Why Wenger Won at Wembley (Bergkampesque)

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16 comments to Why Untold might be reaching the end of its time, and how we can influence the future.

  • colario

    The Prime Minister claims that she has called this general election to strengthen her hand in negotiating Briexit.

    On the back of this claim there are number of intended new laws that will badly affect the needy and introduce restrictions as you have outlined.

    I believe the Prime Minister, Mrs May is using Briexit to hide the her and the Conservative Party’s true program of reductions, cutbacks and restrictions.

  • Andrew Crawshaw

    If you go by manifesto pledges you would never vote for any party, they are all equally bonkers.

    Tony, I agree with you on most things relating to football, but am about as far away from you politically as it is possible to get. I am not going to engage in a point by point analysis of the relative merits of Conservative and Labour Party policies as I think this blog should be about football. If we go on points in the manifestos then under the proposed land tax I will be forced to sell most of my garden in order to continue to live in a house which is a far more direct threat to me than any proposed clampdown on the internet.

    I’m sure that we can both agree that all UK voters should make the small effort next Thursday to vote.

  • Gooner Dog

    Good read Tony. Very enlightening and the proposals frighteningly Orwellian. Andrew – the land tax concept has been around for 150 years and whoever gets in to power will be impelled to review the current Council Tax to either update it, as it is based on house data over 25 years ago, or replace it with something more akin to a land tax. As for your case you will not be forced to sell anything. Unless your garden is deemed ‘developable’ under current planning policy then you will not be affected. The concept is deemed to capture large landholdings that have genuine developable potential value and not your average Joe with a standard garden. Now back to football.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    If the English voters who are to vote in the coming general election called for by the PM to legitimized her reign as PM, (being that she became the PM by selection within her Party to replaced the incumbent PM that resigned), are not comfortable with the regulations the Conservative Party that’s being headed by Theresa May are proposing to introduced if they won the general election, I suggest the electorates should vote the Conservative Party and Theresa May out and vote in the Labour Party with Jeremy Gorbny of the Party elected as the new Prime Minister. And by the outcomes of pre-election polls being conducted, it’s becoming increasingly looking the Conservative Party and Mrs May may lose out in this general election.

    The Premier League has been reported in the media to have awarded Arsenal FC a total sum of just over £139m as their own share of the television money right of last season’s campaign. With this huge fund and other funds available in the Arsenal’s cash vault, lack of money should not be a hindrance anymore to sign one 35 League goalscorer/season marquee striker this summer in addition to renewing the deals of Sanchez and Ozil.

  • We are having some technical problems with comments not appearing as I try to adjust the site in preparation for possible difficulties of the type outlined above.

    If your comment does not appear please give it half an hour if you have had a commeent posted before, or a couple of hours if you are posting for the first time, and then email TonyAttwoodofLondon@gmail.com

    Please tell me

    The screen name you are posting under
    The email address you listed
    The IP address of the computer you are using.

    I will see what I can do.
    Tony

  • Laos gooner

    I wonder whether this internet censorship would actually work. We have, in my opinion, an extremist government. Should they be restricted in their use of the internet? Much of what is presented by political parties is open to debate regarding the accuracy of information provided. Not only should we worry for Untold, but for the whole of society if we are to be dragged into the nightmare May-wellian future. I was blogging in my sleep, I was

  • Clockendrider

    I understand the authors concern. Big Brother is not something I want. At the same time it is the Labour Party which got us into this mess by engaging in unjustifiable, unwinnable, illegal wars. It a bit rich to look to them now for deliverance. Anyone else remember the “ethical foreign policy” we heard so much about in the run up to 97? I wonder what became of it.
    Best we keep this blog to football. That’s quite contentious enough already.

  • Andy Mack

    The vast majority of politicians are self-serving hypocrites (both parties).
    They’ll say anything to garner support whether that means making promises they never intend to honour or saying things in an effort to be popular. This is undoubtedly the case for all the senior ranking politicians of all parties.
    Voting for any of them is a losing gamble.

  • Paul the gooner

    Tony.Please do not use this site as a Political Party Broadcast.I am along way from you when it comes to what Political view we share, however we are on the same wavelength when it comes to supporting our great Club.

  • Pat

    ‘The government will “take steps to protect the reliability and objectivity of information that is essential to our democracy”.’

    Now that worried me, Tony. Because I don’t trust the government’s judgment on ‘the reliability and objectivity of information’. It would be like trusting the PGMOL to tell us the truth about its dealings and secretive structures.

    Thanks for alerting us to these rather alarming proposals.

  • para

    It has been long coming.
    The fact is, any soft or hardware policing of the internet will always be made void by those who have the ability to do so.

    The only alternative is to implement laws that carry a penalty, and this seems to be a start.

    I find it amazing that people actually need to be policed on the internet, ok, i suppose as long as people need to be policed in the “real” world, it would apply to the internet too. Still!

    As long as we need laws, someone will make those laws and probably gain from them too.

    Bye bye internet.

  • Gord

    Congratulations to Olivier Giroud, with the hat trick for France.

    —-

    Corruption News

    A Guatemalan FIFA official (and a Constitutional Court Judge) Hector Trujillo has plead guilty in the USA.

  • Gord

    A little corruption closer to home. 2015/16 EPL close

    The (sweet) FA really should investigate any and all circumstances around Leicester winning the league last year.

    My computer has been preoccupied for more than 1 week now, doing Monte Carlo trials. I am up to 18.1 billion trials.

    Here is a summary table of the most common results for a “rest of the pack” team, as a function of how many wins they get:

    NWins NDraws NPoints
    _0 _ _14 _ _ 14 _ _ _ _235
    _1 _ _13 _ _ 16 _ _ _ 3911
    _2 _ _13 _ _ 22 _ _ _29392
    _3 _ _12 _ _ 21 _ _ 151209
    _4 _ _12 _ _ 24 _ _ 558046
    _5 _ _12 _ _ 27 _ _1584979
    _6 _ _11 _ _ 29 _ _3739965
    _7 _ _11 _ _ 32 _ _7233917
    _8 _ _10 _ _ 34 _ 11724424
    _9 _ _10 _ _ 37 _ 16812768
    10 _ _10 _ _ 40 _ 20597323 _*
    11 _ _ 9 _ _ 42 _ 22 084 775
    12 _ _ 9 _ _ 45 _ 21360465
    13 _ _ 9 _ _ 48 _ 18009090
    14 _ _ 8 _ _ 50 _ 13659286
    15 _ _ 8 _ _ 53 _ _9394275
    16 _ _ 8 _ _ 56 _ _5679577
    17 _ _ 7 _ _ 58 _ _3151080
    18 _ _ 7 _ _ 61 _ _1577145
    19 _ _ 7 _ _ 64 _ _ 697853
    20 _ _ 6 _ _ 66 _ _ 286997
    21 _ _ 6 _ _ 69 _ _ 106378
    22 _ _ 6 _ _ 72 _ _ _34233
    23 _ _ 5 _ _ 74 _ _ _10598 _ (23/12 = 20)
    24 _ _ 5 _ _ 77 _ _ _ 2749
    25 _ _ 4 _ _ 79 _ _ _ _684
    26 _ _ 5 _ _ 83 _ _ _ _150
    27 _ _ 4 _ _ 85 _ _ _ _ 30
    28 _ _ 4 _ _ 88 _ _ _ _ _6
    29 _ _ 4 _ _ 90 _ _ _ _ _1

    The peak likelihood for a rest of the pack team, is to get 11 wins and 9 draws for 42 points. If one puts the relegation line at 40 points (which is close), that typically takes 10 wins and 10 draws.

    The peak in likelihood for 23 wins (for rest of the pack) is to get 5 draws. That likelihood is 1/20,000th that of getting the most likely outcome (11 wins and 9 draws).

    Leicester not only got 23 wins, they got 12 draws. That is down another 1/5000 on the likelihood of 23 wins and 5 draws.

    Or another way to look at it, Leicester’s result is 1/10th as likely as going through the season without any wins and somehow getting the mostly like 0 win result of 14 draws.

    This is just “one kick at the cat” in terms of calculating likelihoods for Leicester winning the season last year. But to me, something REALLY STINKS about these odds.

    There are 834 137 hits on conditions which result in a team having less than 20 points at the end of the season.

    2015/16 Aston Villa 3 8 27 17 points
    2009/10 Portsmouth 7 7 24 28 – 9 = 19
    2007/08 Derby County 1 8 29 11
    2005/06 Sunderland 3 6 29 15
    2002/03 Sunderland 4 7 27 19
    1997/98 and prior is 22 team

    So, 4 times in 19 years corresponds to our 834 137 hits. Leicester’s record of 23 wins and 12 draws got 20 hits. So, another measure says that the likelihood of Leicester winning in 2015/16 is like 1 chance in 302,375 years.

    That is a pessimistic estimate. We have 4 occurances of 19 points or less in 19 years. Which leads to one chance in 75,017 years. We have 3 occurances of 17 points or less in 19 years. Which leads to 1 chance in 39257 years. We have 2 occurances at 15 points or less. Which leads to 1 chance in 17,976 years. And we have 1 occurance at 11 points or less. Which leads to 1 chance in 2106 years.

    The geometric mean of all those odds is 1 chance in 18273 years.

    Instead of looking to rare events, we could look to common ones. The most common event is the 11 win and 9 draws finish (22,084,775 hits). If we divide that by the number of hits (20) for 23 wins and 12 draws for Leicester, we will get a number like 1 million. If the rate at which we got that 11 win and 9 draws was on the order of 10 per season (10 of 14 teams get it), we would end up with a number of about 100,000 to one. Which is better than our pessimistic estimate, and worse than our “most data” realistic estimate.

    But, to me, all these odds suck big time. It just looks way too unlikely for Leicester to have won the EPL without one or more kinds of help.

    The EPL would have had to have been operating since modern mankind first met Cro Magnon man in order for Leicester to have won, or something silly like that.

    I don’t know, other people need to take a crack at calculating these odds. One set of results is not very conclusive.

  • Gord

    The 2002/03 Sunderland results are 04 07 27, and in my MC results that comes up with 111754 hits

    The 2015/16 Aston Villa results are 03 08 27, and in my MC results that comes up with 47558 hits.

    The 2005/06 Sunderland results are 03 06 29, and in my MC results that comes up with 10985 hits.

    The 2007/08 Derby results are the rare one of the bunch at 01 08 29, and in my MC results that comes up with 847 hits.

    Again, the Leicester results only seen 20 hits, which means it is much rarer than even the Derby relegation results.

    If we find the geometric mean of the non-Derby results, we get 38794 hits. If we assume that this number, is about what a once in 19 year event should get for hits, Leicester’s 20 hits implies 36,854 years between hits (on average).

    It is still crazy long odds of it happening.

  • Jammy J

    Goodbye Google Chrome, hello Tor browser.

  • Florian

    Gord,

    Out of curiosity, what is the number of hits on the Invincibles (26 12 0)?