What happens to your Google online accounts when you die?
27 September 2013 by Amy Burton
Google have recently unveiled a new service called ‘Inactive Account Settings’, which has already been dubbed by many as the ‘Death Account Settings’.
Under this new service you can elect for your account to be deleted after a set period of months, up to one year, in which there has been no user activity. The service will apply to +1s, Blogger, Contacts and Circles, Drive, Gmail, Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams, Picasa Web Albums, Google Voice and YouTube.
Users can access this service in the settings page of their Google account and can select whether it will be initiated after 3, 6, 9 or 12 months of inactivity. Before any accounts are deleted an email and text message will be sent to the user informing them of this pending action, to ensure that accounts are not deleted inadvertently.
The advantage of this service is that your online persona will not continue to be in existence indefinitely if the worst were to happen. It also ensures that such data is handled correctly and is not at risk of falling into the wrong hands.
In addition to this service, Google are also allowing selected trusted individuals to be emailed certain data when the user’s account is being closed. For example, users can select photo albums, contacts, blogs and videos to be sent to a set number of people, so that the information can still be accessed and appreciated. Google have however emphasised that under no circumstances would they release account passwords.
Technology website, TechCrunch, reported that this does however open up the question of what would happen if a user has set their Google accounts to delete everything, but if family members want to access certain elements of their account. TechCrunch were informed by a Google spokesperson that “when there’s a conflict, we will honour the preference you’ve made in Inactive Account Manager to the extent permitted by law.”
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