I prefer the double (or triple) choc chip variety, but this is about the more techy computer type.  This post is to explain the recent changes to the site’s Privacy Policy.May 2011 saw the EU Privacy Directive come into effect, the most talked-about implication being that websites would need to obtain users’ explicit permission to use most cookies.  The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) effectively granted UK sites an additional year to make appropriate arrangements for their sites.  As the new deadline of 26 May 2012 approaches for UK sites to comply, there has been some renewed coverage of the requirements in the media.

This site has used cookies for some time, and these have been referred to in the Privacy Policy – nothing deliberately underhand, the main ones were for seeing how users find and use the site, so that I can tailor the content to what people are looking for and improving the navigability of the site.  In addition, the recent introduction of Facebook’s “Like” button and a “Tweet” button for Twitter had added to the use of cookies on the site.

Now I’m a law-abiding person, so I’ve been thinking about what changes I would need to make to this site to ensure compliance with this new law.  I would need to get permission from visitors to set cookies on their first visit.  And then I would have to code all the pages so that the cookies were only set if permission had already been given.  Oh, and then I would need a facility to be able to unset cookies later if a user revoked their permission.  And I would need to rewrite the Privacy Policy.

So I’ve updated the Privacy Policy and stopped using cookies.  I figured I could either have spent some considerable time recoding the site or I could use that time to do something more productive, like spend time with my family, go fellwalking or take photos.  I don’t think I’ll be losing anything significant by removing cookies from the site and experience tells me that the vast majority of users won’t miss anything either.

There were some other factors that led me to this conclusion, but the time investment was the single largest consideration.  Some people may see this as “bottling out”, submitting to the will of politicians.  Whether it is or not, it’s the right decision for this site.