Who gets your data after death?

I have to admit that filling in the inactive account settings for my Google account gave me the shivers. There’s not much that would stop me logging into my Google account for more than 3 months. It would have to be one of the following:

  • Trekking through a rainforest pursued by secret agents monitoring all radio communications.
  • Lost on a desert island with only 80′s computer equipment to keep me amused.
  • In a coma after a botched attack by terrorists who are hell bent on killing open source developers.
  • Dead.

None of the above are very appealing options but at least one is as inevitable as, err, taxes, so it must be faced.

I added a trusted contact and was then presented with a popup asking for a subject and email body. Writing that was unsettling but I hope more services do something similar. I’ve heard too many horror stories about Facebook accounts that have been frozen on the death of an account holder.

You can choose what data is or isn’t shared with a contact. Included is Latitude, which has tracked my whereabouts for the last 2 years and will continue to do so. It makes me wonder how my descendants will cope with the deluge of information. It may very well end up as an anonymous zip file on someone’s computer I guess.

The list won’t be frozen in time either. Do I add my siblings? What about my son when he’s older? What age? I should set a calendar reminder for his 18th birthday. I’ll have to warn those trusted contacts because Google sends an email and a text message when the account goes inactive. Like a letter from the grave.


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One thought on “Who gets your data after death?


  1. Good article, not something I have ever thought about but probably should.

    If you have two step authentication set (e.g. I have the google authenticator app on my phone and need to enter a code if logging in on a different PC) does that get circumvented when your trusted contact logs in or will they need access to your phone to get into your account?

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