One of the issues with living a digital life lately is what happens to your Internet history–browsing history, Gmail and social media accounts, and digital content purchases–when you pass on? For surviving family members who want access to their deceased’s information to remember them by, there really hasn’t been a clear solution, and unlike a physical correspondence or journal, most people don’t know how to bequeath their digital life to surviving relatives. Fortunately, Google is trying to lead the industry with a new ‘Inactive Account Manager.’
Though the Inactive Account Manager doesn’t really apply to situations limited to death, Google says that it is a straightforward way for users to set up a process to what will happen to their data should the account be inactive for whatever reason. The reasons could include death, simple inactivity or non-use of the account, or other reasons that may hinder or prevent a person from logging in.
Users will need to setup a timeout period for the Inactive Account Manager to kick in. That period could be three, six, nine, or twelve months of inactivity. Then, you’ll be able to set up how you want your data handled after the inactive time limits. You can choose to have Google wipe out your data and delete your account, or you can name a person to whom you can bequeath your data.
Right now, data can be aggregated from a variety of Google-owned services, such as Blogger, Contacts, Circles (Google+), Drive, Gmail, Google+ Profiles, Piocasa, Google Voice, YouTube, and Google+ Pages.
But before all this personal information is handed away or deleted, Google says it will first try to contact you via a secondary listed email or a text message. If you don’t respond, then it will proceed with the steps outlined in the Inactive Account Manager.
According to Tech Crunch, if you asked for your account to be deleted and a family member or interested party wants access, then a Google rep said that “when there’s a conflict, we will honor the preference you’ve made in Inactive Account Manager to the extent permitted by law.”
What’s still missing is the ability to will away the digital content that you had purchased via Google, such as apps from the Play Store or music, books, magazines, and movies and TV shows from the appropriate Google Play hubs.
So while the digital generation doesn’t have the old postmarked love letters and journals to leave behind to their survivors, you can still leave your digital life as a keepsake to your survivors if you choose. That old love email can still be read, and the pains and trials of life that you blogged about can still be preserved for future generations to come.