Network activity records and the common good

The record of activities of users of Google, Facebook, Twitter, etc have enormous use in the service of the common good [1]. Google shows us how searching on flu and flu related terms bests the CDC's reportage on outbreaks by two weeks. Facebook's shear population size and its tools for instant affinity groups sees people helping people under good and adverse circumstances. And lack of Twitter activity is the same warning signal grasshoppers give [2]. The upshot of this is that in our current networked world these private institutions need to start making this activity record public.

At one time most decent roadways were private enterprises. They supported commerce and so tolls were used to support them. At some point, roads were seen as too valuable to be held in private hands and government took over the task of building and maintaining decent roadways. The same story can be told about potable water. But why did this not happen to the electric grid or the telephone infrastructure? I don't have an answer today but I do want to find out. I think the answer will lead to a better understanding as to our rights as citizens to having the activity records available for the common good.

[2] The Origins of Knowledge and Imagination. Jacob Bronowski.