Are seniors more vulnerable to hacks than tech-savvy millennials? Not necessarily. Recent research shows that about 75 percent of internet users aren’t bothered about the data they share with companies. And of the 25 percent of users who do care, most seem to be Baby Boomers. A survey released by online news source, Axios, reports people ages 65 and older are more likely to take the time to read through privacy policies and other security precautions in order to safeguard their information while online.
In fact, Millennials are the largest generation willing to post personal information online, especially if there is a benefit to do so. Whether it’s early access to a sale, an exclusive coupon, or more relevant advertising, Millennials more instinctively understand that engaging with companies online has benefits, and that those benefits often become more valuable when companies have more information about who they are and where they live. This could involve anything from “liking” a brand on Facebook, to sharing your location by checking in to an event or restaurant, or participating in an instagram poll. Companies are tracking all of this data and using it to better target customers and build loyalty.
“Consumers are increasingly aware that companies share and sell their personal data in exchange for free services, but consumers’ privacy concerns aren’t translating into concrete action to protect their data,” according to the study, which surveyed more than 4,000 internet users.
A separate study from OpenVPN found older populations were more likely to use higher levels of security: some 65 percent of Baby Boomers are more likely to use biometric passwords, compared to just 40 percent of millennials. Experts believe this millennia behavior is likely temporary, and the generation will become more careful about how much they share online as they get older and have more assets to protect.
Privacy policies are often difficult to understand and seem daunting, Francis Dinha, chief executive officer of OpenVPN, said, which may cause people to skip over them. Following the passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of data-handling rules put forth by European Union Regulators passed in May 2018, this is starting to change.
Under the new rules, companies are required to send users simpler messages about data. Specifically the GDPR ruling says: “Consent must be clear and distinguishable from other matters and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language.”
Although the law passed in the EU, it applies to any companies that do service based out of the EU or with EU residents. People can expect to get pop ups and notifications about data usage when they click on a website rather than pages of confusing “terms of service” agreements. Some companies have already emailed users to ask them to update preferences or consent to data collection.
“Understanding our data and privacy is our own responsibility,” Dinha said. “We can’t simply accept any and all ‘terms and conditions’ without a deeper understanding of the privacy we’re signing away.”