Sunday, April 12, 2009

Digitally deceased?

I'm intrigued by a report of a new service for Internet users.

IN THE days before technology, death was a relatively simple affair: the physical belongings of the deceased could be divided among friends and family to act as a permanent reminder of a life.

In the digital age, things are not so easy. As well as the physical belongings, there is an entire cyber existence to take care of - documents, Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts. Such sites are littered with profiles of dead people. Here are their last photos, thoughts and messages. What happens to these when someone dies?

Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley may have found a solution. This week, a site called Legacy Locker was launched in the United States. It not only provides a storage space for wills, farewell letters and other documents but a master list of user names and passwords for online bank accounts, networking sites and document repositories.

Subscribers to the service create a list of their online profiles and passwords and nominate a "beneficiary" to receive this information upon their death.

It means that their Facebook profile, email address or Twitter account can be disabled after they die, and that nominated relatives can assume ownership of their digital ephemera.

There's more at the link.

I'd never thought about it, but I guess there's a real need for this. After all, without it, how can your heirs persuade Facebook, or Blogger, or any other Web site, that they really are your heirs, and entitled to take over and close down your accounts?


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