Data after death? Google grants ‘digital wills’ to users

15/04/2013

Google has launched a ‘digital wills’ service, letting users choose what happens to their data after they die.

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The tool lets consumers to decide if digital information stored on services such as Gmail, YouTube and Google Drive is passed on to a next of kin or ‘wiped with approval’ if they become inactive online for any other reason.

Dubbed "data-after-death", the official Google facility is formally known as inactive account manager and lets users tell the company what to do with email messages and other data if their account becomes inactive.

For example, Google email and YouTube posting can be deleted after three, six or 12 months of inactivity. Or they can choose specific people to receive the data access.

The issue of personal data possession has become an increasingly important issue as "cloud computing" and social media expands.

Although some online firms readily allow access to data by someone's next of kin, others have been forced into court battles over access.

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