The internet is something of a large data exchange centre, where data is stored, processed and accessed. As we make use of the internet we generate, and find access to,
three types of data: public data, private data and pseudo-private data.
Typically private data is data that we store on the internet, meant for our eyes only, such as emails, private files and
communications. This we keep behind password protected accounts and service providers aren’t allowed to monitor or share, and then there’s our
public data, free for the world to see, this would be all the information you voluntarily share on your social media accounts and finally there is
your pseudo-private data. Pseudo-private because it’s not data that just anyone can access or see, with the exception of the service provider and certain groups.
Don’t worry, Gmail can’t and won’t access your private emails – there are policies against that – but they do
know what you like to search on the internet. Your online activities, connected to your accounts, are logged in several different ways, by your service providers and with each of those service providers, there exists a database with your general information.
No you’re not being monitored with unethical intentions, but like with any account, you supply information to your service provider so they may manage your account. Really it’s your accounts that are being monitored.
The key word here is data mining. The internet being relatively young and still growing, service providers like Google use data mining to
better tailor the services they provide to you the individual. By collecting data such as the search terms you use, the websites you visit and your general activities
on the internet, service providers can better personalize, and manage, your account, like how Facebook tends to “suggest” friends to you,
using information like, your geographical location, the groups you belong to and yes your mutual friends.
As the internet learns our patterns, our likes and dislikes, it becomes a better product. Service providers are working to better tailor the internet to your individual needs,
perhaps to a point where the internet can predict what you’d like to do, before you even know you’d like to do it. As the internet becomes smarter.