Have you ever thought about your digital assets? These are your online belongings and they could indeed be worth pondering over. The average person now has more than 10 online accounts, including social media, shopping and bank accounts - which can contain a great deal of personal and financial value.
Your digital assets include almost anything you access with a username & password; as well as those mentioned above these could be things as diverse as domain names and hosting packages, arrangements with companies like PayPal and online gaming accounts. Basically anything into which we put data... data which, in most cases, remains after we die.
An increasing number of Britons are leaving their passwords and login details to digital executors who then use that personal information to take care of your online presence. Many of these executors even promise to make potentially damaging things in your web history 'disappear'.
Consider the idea of a digital will: is it time to be thinking about a secure portfolio of 'digital inheritance' which can be passed to your next of kin when you die - or to be dealt with in any way that you request? It's a question that is bound to get only more complicated as our digitally engaged population grows older.
Think about how many passwords and online accounts you have. Who else has access to that information? Whom would you like to get access after you die? How would the providers that host your data know you had died, and what standards could they use to verify that fact? As the information we store online becomes more complex and more valuable, these questions become increasingly relevant.
The Current Policies of some well-known Online Companies:
•Twitter: family or friends can download a copy of your public tweets and close your account. Your digital executor will need to provide their name and contact details, their relationship to you, your Twitter username and a link to or copy of your obituary.
•Hotmail will send a copy of all email messages and a current contacts list to your family, before closing the account on request. While this can make it easier for your family to notify all of your contacts of your death, keep in mind this also means your family will be able to read all of your private emails, which may not only include revelations about you, but could also reveal personal information about others.
•MySpace: if sent proof of death they will cancel a deceased user's account.
•LinkedIn: will also close your account if they receive confirmation of your death.
•YouTube: allows your heir or power of attorney control of your account and all of the content.
•Google+ and Gmail: will provide account information to family members at their discretion.
•Yahoo, Flickr: both sites have a strict digital death policy where, upon receiving a copy of your death certificate they will permanently delete all of your accounts and their contents meaning no one but you can ever access them.