Google adds 'digital estate planning' to its services

Apr 11, 2013
Google on Thursday began letting people plan out what is to be done with their digital photos, documents and other virtual belongings after they die or become incapacitated.

Google on Thursday began letting people plan out what is to be done with their digital photos, documents and other virtual belongings after they die or become incapacitated.

An "Inactive Account Manager" can be used to direct to pass on data from online venues such as Google Drive, Gmail, , or social network Google+ to particular people or be deleted after being dormant for too long.

"What should happen to your photos, emails and documents when you stop using your account?" Google said in a message at an account settings page.

"You might want your data to be shared with a trusted friend or family member, or, you might want your account to be deleted entirely," the message continued.

"Whatever the reason, we give you the option of deciding what happens to your data."

Google lets people specify how long to wait before taking action, and the California-based will send account holders email or text message reminders before "timeout" periods are ended.

The feature was added as people increasingly trust their data and memories online social networks, data storage facilities, and other services hosted in the Internet "cloud."

, for example, allows members to have accounts "memorialized" after they die.

Laws in the United States and elsewhere are vague on the fate of digital rights to online accounts after death, leading to complications and legal wrangling for survivors who want access to the online services of the deceased.

In one case that drew considerable attention, the family of a US Marine killed in Iraq went to court in 2005 after being blocked from getting access to his Yahoo email account, with the company arguing that it could not release "private" information and that the account was "non-transferable" under terms of service.

Some say a separate document or executor for could be useful, with one way to preserve access being to register accounts in the name of a trust, control of which could be transferred on death.

Explore further: Turkey still hopes Twitter will open local office

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Google makes Web search more social

Feb 17, 2011

Google is making Web search more social, weaving posts from the Twitter, Flickr, Blogger and other accounts of a user's friends into search results.

Recommended for you

Net neutrality balancing act

10 hours ago

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Apr 16, 2014

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

Apr 16, 2014

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...