In 1998, the Internet was “green” with an influx of venture capital money. A decade later, green on the ‘Net is rapidly being identified with benefits to the environment. Due to high gas prices, there are a number of reports documenting increased use of the Internet for teleconferencing and telecommuting. I used these two as examples of activities we shouldn’t discourage when arguing in favor of extending the Internet access tax moratorium.
Now there’s a new tax on the horizon – digital downloads. Today’s CNET news article describes how states have recently passed laws taxing downloaded content from the Internet, and quotes my colleague Steve DelBianco: “A digital download is the greenest way to buy music, movies, and software, since it requires no driving to the store, no delivery vans, and no plastics or packaging.”
Indeed, Telefonica, Spain’s largest telecom provider, has a report that discusses the climate benefits of ICT. It’s based on another report published in 2003 from Digital Europe, a project funded by the European Union. The findings:
Resource comparative (minerals, fossil fuels, etc) used to access 56 minutes of music:
Physical retail: 1.56 Kg [3.4 lb]
Online Shopping: 1.31 Kg [2.9 lb]
Digital distribution (without subsequent burning): 0.60Kg [1.3 lb]
Digital distribution (burning on to a CD): 0.67 Kg [1.5 lb]
So download and be green, despite that tax regulators are green with envy about collecting taxes from digital downloads.