Online Identity after Death and Digital Wills
By Roberta Flores
SXTXstate for KUT
If you died tomorrow, what would happen to all your internet accounts? Do you have blog? How would your loved ones access all your content? Although these questions may seem silly, they are worth exploring in our digital age. And just like a scrapbook or that file cabinet that you keep in the closet, your digital accounts may have important memories and files that your loved ones will want after you’re gone. We spoke to Corvida Raven of SheGeeksto see what she had to say about her upcoming SXSWi panel called, “Your Online Identity after Death and Digital Wills”:
1. Why should we care what happens to our email accounts after we die?
The majority of people use the internet for searching, not necessarily to manage their life. So no one thinks about, “okay I left this picture here…and put that information out there.” Since no one can stalk you after your dead it’s not really a privacy issue, but at the same time your family may no longer want this information out there when you have passed. There may be times when a family might want access to your email account for personal reasons. There was a case in 2005 where the court ordered Yahoo to give the family of aUS Marine who was killed in Iraq access to the soldiers email.
2. How would someone get access to the deceased one’s data?
For the most part, most of them will give you access to the data; it’s just the process of how you would go about and get it. Some of them won’t give over passwords and some only allow next of kin to delete accounts. Now, they actually prefer you to put it in your will if you want people to inherit your email accounts.
3. What exactly is a digital will? What does it do?
A digital will is part of a regular will but with an addition to include your digital assets. Your will would reference a file where the passwords for your accounts are kept. Now there are actual services that will prepare a digital will for you.
4. If there is one piece of advice/lesson that you want people to take from your panel what would it be?
That at the end of the day we want to be remembered and this is another way to carry that out. Another thing you have to consider is that our old formats will become obsolete. Like when is the last time you went to Walgreens to print pictures out? We aren’t printing out pictures anymore we are putting them all on Facebook. How will our children be able to access our digital memories? The point of all this is not just that people want to become immortal. Digital memories are the new history book for every generation to come. To me it’s worth protecting if it is something you want to leave behind in the future.