Thursday, 12 November 2009

Know what's what with your digital after-life

We live in an era where our digital privacy is under more and more scrutiny, and subject to more and more regulation (in the UK from next year all telecoms companies and internet service providers will be required by law to keep a record of every customer's personal communications, showing who they are contacting, when, where and which websites they are visiting).

But what happens to all that data and all those websites or newsletters you've signed up for when you die?  Would your executors automatically get granted access to your accounts?  Would they even know what you had accounts for?  Where would they start in terms of getting access to them without knowing your passwords? Like most people, I store my many passwords in my head. I change them fairly regularly having had my identity stolen 2 years ago. I have different profiles for different things. That wouldn't help anyone were I to meet with an unfortunate accident. Heaven forbid.  To my knowledge there isn't any online Credit Card Sentinel-type service where one call/email cancels or puts on ice everything, just as one call to Sentinel sorts out cancelling all your cards etc if your wallet gets stolen. That's probably because updating it would feel hideously onerous as we scatter our digital breadcrumbs far and wide in our travels across the web.

I hadn't really given it much thought 'til a mate of mine tweeted this link to an interesting article that rounds up current policy from major websites like Facebook, Gmail and Yahoo.  Worth a read & sharing the link with others too.

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