Google Plans for ‘Digital Afterlife’

by Thea 0

Gmail is the preferred mail client for millions of users. The reach of Gmail extends to most parts of the world. The vast sphere of various Google services is inadvertently connected to your Google account and by extension to your mail. YouTube, blogs, Google drive and other Google accounts are all linked to your mail account. But have you ever wondered, what would happen to your Google account after you have passed on? Strictly speaking, Google doesn’t offer special services in the great beyond. Your Gmail accounts, not just your mail but also blog posts and online photos that you have saved in your account-  Is all that data simply to go waste? Not really.

Google has a way to ensure your ‘digital life’ doesn’t go waste after you. Called the ‘inactive account manager’, it will let Gmail users decide on the right time to trigger its action. The inactive account manager will come into action in case a user doesn’t log-in for a certain period of time. The time period can be 3 to 12 months depending on the user’s choice. After the inactive period, the user’s data may be either deleted or sent to a nominated individual of the users choosing. The nominated person then assumes command of the data and decides on the proper way of disposing it.

This move comes in the wake of rising concerns regarding problems faced by families trying to retrieve or even shut down the accounts of dead relatives. Google offers numerous tools to handle a possible ‘digital death’. The Email or social account of a person is a significant window into their lives. This privacy is preventing people accessing data from their long gone dear ones. There have been examples of court battles being fought for the right to retrieve this information. Facebook has already begun offering ‘memorializing’ services where the account may be kept active but it shall not be utilized for advertising purposes.

The process of obtaining a deceased user’s account information is a very lengthy procedure and would even require a court order. Google’s system allows the user to nominate any person of his choosing as eligible to receive his data which are otherwise protected by data protection laws. In case of inactivity, Google pings a warning message to the users mobile and an email to the backup e-mail account that was chosen by the user. In case the user checks-in within a month of receiving the warning, the account is then deemed to be active once more and no further action is taken. The process repeats itself for any future periods of inactivity.

Google gives you two options on how to handle your data. You may choose to have the whole thing deleted or have it sent to nominated ‘trusted contacts’. The nominated person will be able to view your entire Google information starting with Blogger, Google+, email to Google drive and even YouTube. This new feature hopefully enables the Google users to plan ahead and ensure the privacy and protection of their ‘digital afterlife’. More importantly, accessing a loved one’s data will not be a haranguing procedure anymore.

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