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Metadata assists users in resource discovery by "allowing resources to be found by relevant criteria, identifying resources, bringing similar resources together, distinguishing dissimilar resources, and giving location information." Metadata of telecommunication activities including Internet traffic is very widely collected by various national governmental organizations.
This data is used for the purposes of traffic analysis and can be used for mass surveillance.
For example, a web page may include metadata specifying what software language the page is written in (e.g., HTML), what tools were used to create it, what subjects the page is about, and where to find more information about the subject.Metadata was traditionally used in the card catalogs of libraries until the 1980s, when libraries converted their catalog data to digital databases.In the 2000s, as digital formats were becoming the prevalent way of storing data and information, metadata was also used to describe digital data using metadata standards.Bretherton & Singley (1994) distinguish between two distinct classes: structural/control metadata and guide metadata.Structural metadata describes the structure of database objects such as tables, columns, keys and indexes.