Millennials, it is often said, don’t care about privacy. Magically, the fact that they are “digital natives” erases their concern about the personal information collected by online and social media companies and how those companies use it in our modern, interconnected, ‘always-on’ world. This overgeneralization misses the mark.
While it is true millennials are the first generation to grow up with computers, the internet, and a smart device in their pocket, the belief that privacy is something they don’t care about is a myth. Millennials represent the heart of why this matters, but they are not alone. Generation X and Baby Boomers index even higher in their recognition of the importance of privacy in a modern world. A recent survey conducted by the research firm CivicScience for the Internet Innovation Alliance proves that Millennials value their online privacy and worry about the security and protection of their personal data.
CivicScience found that 67 percent of Millennials expressed a worry over hacking of their personal financial information from online and social media companies, not far behind the 75% of Gen Xers and 77% of Baby Boomers. Seventy-four percent of Millennials expressed concern with how technology and social media companies use their data and location information, compared to 75 percent of those between the ages of 35-54 and 79 percent of Americans age 55 and older. What’s more, three-quarters of U.S. adults across three generations are not okay with online tech / social media companies using their personal data, even if it makes online searches, content, and advertisements more relevant.
It is rare to see generations of individuals across all walks of life express the same concern. More than 70 percent of all Americans believe Congress should enact one privacy protection law. Congress should pass federal data privacy legislation that governs the entire internet ecosystem and that treats everyone in that ecosystem the same. To be clear, Boomers, X-ers and Millennials all want privacy. Now is the perfect time for Congress to show that it is listening.