A fifth of millennials would rather the U.S. government see what’s on their phone than their significant other

Breaches of personal data have big consequences. Ask any user of Ashley Madison. Ask executives at Sony. Ask Hillary Clinton’s campaign. And, as we learned from the recent Wikileaks dump, all those private messages you’re sending may not be so private.

So, if you had to choose, who would you rather have view what is on your phone? The government? Or your significant other?

Radware commissioned a survey, conducted online by Harris Poll in March, which posed that question to more than 2,200 Americans ages 18 and older. If you said significant other, you fall in line with the majority – overall, 89 percent said they’d rather have their spouse, girlfriend, or boyfriend see what they have on their phone than the government.

Whether it’s a hacker dumping your emails or hacking your photos, or the government listening in, privacy is never guaranteed. Even though there are people we want to see our data and those we don’t.

The big surprise? Certain generations are more amenable to government snooping than others. Among millennials (ages 18-34), 20 percent would rather the government see the contents of their phone than their significant other compared to only 8 percent of adults ages 35 and older.

And while overall the same proportion of men and women favor significant others (89 percent for both) to the government (11 percent for both), millennials again stand out. Some 22 percent of men ages 18-34 would rather the government see what’s on their phone. Among women 18-34, the number is 18 percent. Millennial men and women are both more than twice as likely as their older counterparts to choose the government (8 percent each for men and women ages 35 and older).

[You might also like: Is the Internet Rolling Back our Freedoms?]

Do more younger Americans have something to hide from their significant others? Or have they simply abandoned the idea of privacy after growing up in a world where so much of their personal information is accessible and shareable with anyone in the world? Not to mention that everything from passwords to credit card   information to medical records routinely end up for sale on the Darknet.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the overwhelming majority would rather share their digital lives with those they’re close to. But it will be interesting to see how the numbers shift and attitudes change as hackers and governments redefine our notions of privacy.

It underscores the need to better protect our right to privacy, in law, as part of the Constitution, and strengthen the defenses we throw up to regain control over who can see our data.

Survey Methodology:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Radware from March 30 – April 3, 2017 among 2,224 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


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