Google has found another way to integrate in to our lives, even beyond the grave. They have launched a new service designed to help tidy up all the loose ends when you die. The Digital Will simply allow users to identify who they wish to be granted access rights to their online data.
Google has found another way to integrate in to our lives, even beyond the grave. They have launched a new service designed to help tidy up all the loose ends when you die.
The Digital Will simply allow users to identify who they wish to be granted access rights to their online data.
With the ever increasing amount of online data, this issue was always going to become a problem at some point but it does beg the question what would the legal profession say in response to the initiative.
Stacey Pitsillides, studying for a PhD at Goldsmiths College in London, has been researching this issue and claims that Google is the first out of the starting blocks in what is set to become an industry wide issue.
Google currently offers users a choice of settings over the retention aspects of Google Docs, Email and YouTube content. Users can nominate individuals to assume ownership of the data or you can currently nominate an individual (must be another Google user, of course) to make decisions about the future of your data.
Users can also request that all data be deleted after 3, 6 or 12 months of inactivity. Another alternative is to request that specified data be sent to certain people via email.
Before taking this action, the service will text the account holder and send an email to a secondary email address (just in case you've been inactive because of say a long holiday for example, rather than death).
The initiative has been dubbed ‘data after death’ and so far the initial response has been fairly positive. As people live more of their lives online, the question of what happens to your data after death is becoming more crucial.
A survey by online legal service, Rocket Lawyer, showed that only ten per cent of UK citizens include passwords in their wills or have planned to take care of their digital inheritance. It’s going to be interesting to see how different companies decide to tackle this.
Facebook for example allows user family members or friends to memorialise Facebook pages of users that have died. Once an account is memorialised no one can log into or make changes, accept new friends etc. Facebook also removes the profiles of deceased people from the lists to suggest ‘People You May Know’.
While this may be unsettling, the idea of what happens to our data needs to be faced and I think it will become more commonplace to have our wishes for our digital legacies outline in wills.
Would you consider filling in your ‘Inactive Account’ settings or just see this as another Google buy-in technique?