Here’s a good news story to kick off the new month…
The GDPR has provided a whole new framework for data protection, a framework that is centred around an individual’s right to privacy rather than an organisation’s desire for data. Your rights are now stronger and clearer, and organisations must safeguard data and be transparent about how they use it.
Individuals have benefited from tighter data security, greater control over their information and clearer requests for consent. However, the GDPR has also provided an additional benefit. GDPR is good for the environment!
What does GDPR have to do with the environment?
At first, it’s quite hard to see the connection. How can a data protection law affect climate change? This becomes clearer when we remember that the majority of data these days is held electronically. We use electricity to run computers, servers and routers, as well as to manufacture computing equipment. Each email sent creates around 5g of CO2. This may not sound like a lot, but when the average office worker sends and receives 140 emails a day, it all adds up.
So, using the internet has an environmental impact, but that still doesn’t explain why the GDPR has been good for the environment.
We’re receiving fewer emails
Since the GDPR came into effect, organisations have reduced the number of marketing emails they send. The GDPR made consent requirements are more stringent; organisations must provide an opt-in mechanism for emails, rather than an opt-out mechanism. This means that only those interested in a product or service receive marketing emails. Not only is this better for individuals, but it also cuts down emissions. A reduction in the number of emails sent means that over 360 tonnes of CO2 are saved every day. The same as a flight from London to New York
Websites are Slimming Down
Additionally, many websites have cut the number of third-party cookies and ad trackers on their websites. A report from Jet Global found that since the implementation of the GDPR, UK news sites have 45% fewer third-party cookies on their sites. UK companies aren’t the only ones to slim down. When the GDPR came into effect, USA Today ran a cut-down version of their site for EU customers. This version (with all the tracking code removed), was one-tenth of the size of the original size, and took just 3 seconds to load, compared to 45 seconds. Slow sites use more energy, and most of this energy is provided by fossil fuels and non-renewables. Digital sustainability expert Chris Adams estimated that the cut-down version of USA Today can save about as much CO2 as a flight from Chicago to New York a day.
The GDPR is good for individuals, and is good for businesses. Turns out, it’s also good for the planet.