On Wednesday Google took the first step as one of the first major internet companies to put control of digital afterlife directly into the hands of its users.
The cutting edge Internet juggernaut revealed its dashboard for users of Gmail, Google+, cloud storage Drive, Picasa Albums, YouTube and other services that allows people to identify their preferences on what happens to their data after they die or become incapacitated. You are able to choose to delete some or all of the data after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity, or pass data from the accounts along to one or more other people.
Google is calls the offering its “Inactive Account Manager.”
“We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife–in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone,” wrote Google product manager Andreas Tuerk in a blog post.
While most people would rather not think about what happens to their digital property after death, while they’re still living, it can be the source of major legal and emotional challenges for surviving family.
Even if stipulated in a will many major Internet services do not allow people to pass control of accounts to other people, due to U.S. privacy laws and other concerns.
Have you taken time to ensure your digital assets are not lost when you pass? Do you have precious data online that you’d like your loved ones to have access to? Take the time and to include your digital assets in your estate plan and take the necessary steps to allow the ones you love to have access to your digital assets once you’re gone.