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What if you die? Google wants you to bequeath your Gmail or kill it


Updated: April 12, 2013, 1:32 PM IST
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What if you die? Google wants you to bequeath your Gmail or kill it
Google is asking users what they want to happen to their digital assets in case they die or become incapacitated.

New Delhi: Worried who will read some of your personal and saved emails and conversation after you are dead? Google now has a solution for that. Google has launched an inactive account manager feature that can be used as a digital will. Google is asking people what they want to happen to their digital photos, documents and other virtual belongings in case they die or become incapacitated.

An Inactive Account Manager can be used to direct Google to pass on data from online services such as Google Drive, Gmail, YouTube, or Google+ to particular people, or be deleted after being dormant for too long. In a message at an account settings page, Google gives people the option of sharing their data with a trusted friend or family member, or having their account deleted.

The Google Inactive Account Manager is not available for Google users with Google Apps accounts. Google says the service is is only available for Google accounts.

Google lets people specify how long to wait before taking action, and the California-based internet giant will send account holders email or text message reminders before "timeout" periods are ended.

In setting up the Google Inactive Account Manager, users will be able to select a length of time the account must be inactive before the alert goes out. Then, up to ten trusted individuals will receive a customised information on how to proceed or handle the account.

Finally, Google gives users the option to effectively "burn" their account, wiping all materials from all Google properties including public Youtube videos, Google+ profiles and Google Voice. Users can choose 3, 6, 9, or 12 months as the timeout period and Google will send a notification to the secondary email address one month before the period is set to expire.

If that time passes, any trusted contacts will receive a personal email explaining that said individual had left them the data, including instructions on how to download it. The set-up page reads: "What should happen to your photos, emails and documents when you stop using your account? Google puts you in control.

"You might want your data to be shared with a trusted friend or family member, or you might want your account to be deleted entirely. There are many situations that might prevent you from accessing or using your Google account. Whatever the reason, we give you the option of deciding what happens to your data.

"Using Inactive Account Manager, you can decide if and when your account is treated as inactive, what happens with your data and who is notified." Dealing with digital identities after someone has gone dead or missing is an interesting and still-developing problem on various platforms.

The Inactive Account Manager is a simplified version of the old process for accessing or shutting down an account, which required both birth and death notices from a family member.

Other platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, still require a bit of finagling to secure a loved one's account after he or she dies, but the Inactive Account Manager could provide plenty of information and act as a "digital will" with minimal set-up.

(With inputs from PTI)

What do you want Google to do with your digital assets after your death?

First Published: April 12, 2013, 1:32 PM IST
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