The idea of people leaving their Facebook passwords in their wills is certainly not a mainstreaan concept- at the moment. However, if one really stops to think of it, our growing reliance on internet based services prompts the necessity of such action. In fact, a study conducted in behalf of Rackspace, a cloud computing company, showed that about 1 in 10 people in the UK leave their Internet passwords in their last will and testament.
The decision is a very sound one that’s meant to ensure that whatever personal data the person has stored online will be available and won’t be abused. It’s not easy for the family to obtain their deceased loved ones’ passwords. In fact, hackers have a bigger capacity to discover what these passwords are than the families do. As such, inactive accounts often fall prey to the actions of spammers and hackers, and the family can do little about this matter if they do not have any access.
Moreover, people are beginning to store more and more of their assets online. Music, books, photographs – all of which could be counted as part of a person’s properties – are now being kept in sites such as Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Some people have a fortune in digital data stored within their various online accounts.
The issue of digital inheritances has been causing quite a stir among the public, not because it’s a controversial idea, but because it’s rapidly becoming a highly practical one especially as we move further into the digital age.
The creation of a ‘digital inheritance’ also coincides with a new piece of legislation that the EU is currently working on, particularly the “right to be forgotten online”. If a person has passed away, his Facebook profile along with his other accounts will usually just live on. If he does not pass on his Facebook password before he dies, it’s practically impossible for the right to be invoked thereafter.
Also, in the event that a family may want their deceased loved one’s account deleted for privacy and security reasons but do not have access to it, their only alternative would be to file an appeal with the social networking site. However, privacy advocates believe that it should be the social networking sites which should be making their appeal on why they still need the accounts to be kept and not the other way around.
Indeed, the number of issues surrounding people’s rights to their data as opposed to the companies’ rights is testament to how today’s legislation simply cannot catch up to the rate in which technology grows. People like you and me should take a leaf out of the books of these Brits and take charge of our online data and how it is used as best as we can.