Take heart, NSA. Millennials might be opposed to your mass surveillance programs more than any other age group, but there's evidence to suggest they could be flipped.
In a poll that defies all logic and reason based on previous polling, Gallup found that 44 percent of millennials trust that businesses are keeping their personal information private all or most of the time -- more than any other generation. Just 26 percent say they don't really trust said businesses -- the lowest among all generations.
The reasons that's so surprising?
1. A March Pew poll found millennials are the least trusting generation. Only 19 percent said, "generally speaking, most people can be trusted."
2. A 2013 Pew poll found 18-to-29-year-olds were the most likely age group to think it's more important for the federal government to not intrude on personal privacy than investigate possible terrorist threats and that the NSA's tracking of phone records of millions of Americans was unacceptable.
The one area where young people fell behind other generations was on whether they thought the government should be able to track everyone's e-mail and online activity to investigate terrorist threats, but still a majority agreed.
Even though millennials are generally distrustful and more likely to be concerned about government privacy -- not to mention things like recent security breaches at major retailers like Home Depot and Target, the "Fappening" and the Sony hack, evidence Uber has previously used its ability to track customers, and everything we've learned about how government monitors phone and online records, which a court recently found illegal -- for some reason, more than four out of 10 say they think businesses protect their privacy.
Gallup had a few theories. One of them is that millennials might have a lower expectation of security because they're aware everything they do is online. Another is that they trust information will be protected because they've grown up with computers, the Internet, smartphones and apps. A third is that they are being young and naive. It could also be optimism. For a generation that keeps its photos, texts, travel routes, guilty-pleasure music playlists, purchases and secrets all on a single device, you hope it's all being kept private. It's not like any of us are going back to living a pre-smartphone lifestyle anytime soon.
In the showdown over the future of the NSA and government surveillance, a big factor is perception. If the public feels as if its privacy and security can be protected, it's less likely to be upset with the NSA. We've already seen both Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Republicans like Ted Cruz come together to support a supposed fix, the USA Freedom Act, to restrain some aspects of the government's surveillance.
While some have come out against it as not going far enough, if that or other measures can allay fears over privacy concerns, even millennials -- the group most skeptical of the NSA -- could conceivably have a change of heart.