These days it’s in vogue to grumble about how young people broadcast their most intimate lives online with no concern for their own privacy, let alone that of anyone else, but according to a new study released Wednesday the stereotype just isn’t true.
Perceptions about what ought to be private information hold fairly steady across all generations of Americans, according to a new study from the Boston Consulting Group.
Among younger millennials (18 to 24), 60% consider Internet surfing history to be moderately or extremely private, while 61% of older millennials (25 to 34) and 60% of Gen-Xers (35 to 48) hold the same view. Only 51% of Baby Boomers (49 to 67) and 54% of Silents (68 and older) consider surfing history private. With respect to information about your exact location—the geolocating data that helps guide you to your destination and guide advertisers to you—the young appear even more privacy-conscious than the old. Only 9% of younger millennials consider data on your exact location to be slightly or not very private, compared to 20% of Silents.
Feelings about privacy hold relatively steady across developed countries including U.S., Canada, Australia and “EU5” (Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the U.K.), but not Japan. Only 5% of Americans say credit card data is slightly or not at all private, to cite just one example, compared to 21% of Japanese who feel that way.
All in all, respondents in developed countries say they want to control who gets access to their personal data and what it’s used for, with only 4% saying they’re comfortable with information gathered about them being used outside of its original context. More consumers (16%) in the fast-developing economies of Brazil, China and India say they’re comfortable with their data being used in ways they don’t have control over. In developed countries, high-income people feel more strongly about personal data privacy than low-income people.