Internet databases store all personal information of users, including browsing history, shopping history, e-mail activity, account details, credit history, and in some cases, even certain passwords. Information related to a user's health history, insurance claims and purchase returns are also stored by some agencies in their Internet databases.
Depending upon the application used, the sensitivity of the information of the data stored, and the location of users, Internet databases are either public or private. Private and sensitive data is usually accessible only to government offices and law enforcement agencies. Creditors, landlords and employers may be privy to a more limited amount of information, specifically pertaining to the services they offer or to which they are legally entitled.
While Internet databases hold sufficient information to provide a rather accurate picture of a person's background, these databases are also used for surveillance purposes. In some cases, the information in Internet databases helps lending and insurance agencies get forecasts of possible usage trends so that they can offer their services accordingly.
All information in Internet databases has a retention period of usually a year. Government agencies might choose to retain data for longer, while private agencies might choose data retention periods of a few months, depending on local legal requirements.