What happens to internet accounts of dead people?

Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:02 am
I know it is a grim topic but I was wondering it the other day. In the old days it was only the post adress that might survive many years after the death of a person. Today one might have 10 or more differennt accounts in the internet. E-mail, Facebook, Myspace, own web sites etc. What happends to these after a person dies? Of course some of will be closed after not using them in a while. There was in the news little while ago that they found abonded DDR apartment from Berlin that wasent changed in anyway in over 20 years. It would be interesting idea if say 100 years from now people find web sites or accounts that were made in the begining of the internet.
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Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:38 am
A friend of mine died and I went looking for her accounts one day only to discover a vast region of howling demons and swirling mists. The accounts were in there somewhere amidst the demons, -- I could actually see brief glimpses of them as they whisked by in the maelstrom, and I even came close to grabbing one but the demon slapped my hand away and howled at me. These demons must be a type of internet guardian of dead people's stuff.

I left reassured and pleased that my friend's words were safe from prying eyes.
Robert Gentel
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 01:00 am
Taking passwords to the grave

"Yahoo (his e-mail provider) said it wouldn't give out the information due to privacy laws, but my dad is dead so I don't understand that," she said.

But it's not a question of privacy rights so much as property rights, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

"The so-called 'Tort of Privacy' expires upon death, but property interests don't," he said. "Private e-mails are a new category. It's not immediately clear how to treat them, but it's a form of digital property."

Attorneys advising clients on estate planning should ask them to determine who they want to have access to their computers when they die, Rotenberg said.

That's exactly what San Francisco-based estate planning attorney Michael Blacksburg does. "I advise clients to put all their passwords to things online in an estate planning document," he said.

Google will provide access to a deceased Gmail user's account if the person seeking it provides a copy of the death certificate and a copy of a document giving the person power of attorney over the e-mail account, said a Google spokeswoman.

America Online follows the same policy, according to spokesman Andrew Weinstein.

"In terms of tips for estate planning, it's much easier if a family member already has the password, or a person could entrust their key passwords (for online access/banking/stock accounts, etc.) to a trusted friend or attorney," Weinstein wrote in an e-mail. He said the situation comes up "fairly regularly."

And "Microsoft's policy allows next of kin to gain access to the content of the Windows Live Mail account (burned on CD/floppy disk) of the deceased upon proving their relationship," a Microsoft spokesman wrote in an e-mail. "We have tried to institute a policy that is very focused on privacy, but at the same time honors the request of bereaved family members going through a difficult time."

Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 02:53 am
@Robert Gentel,
Interesting. Good idea to put it on the will. If one would play some online game for example World of Warcraft they could pass on their character to someone.
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Merry Andrew
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 04:29 am
I've run into some of those demons, Gus. There are a couple of internet accounts of my own, started back in the antedeluvian days of the early 1990s, that even I myself cannot access any more. They're there somewhere out in cyberspace but them damn' demons won't let me near 'em. In one case somebody tried to hack into my account (with some minimal success, I might add) and now those demons who're charged with protecting site security won't let anybody near the site -- not even me. And the password I was using at the time has become anathema. Anywhere.
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Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 06:24 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I I have an even larger problem all my data on all my computers is protected by truecrypt AES 256. Unless I give the pass phases to a second party all my digit information will die with me and all my computers will need to re-format and the OS re-install on the hard drives before they can be used.

This is the situation as of now but then I am going to live forever at least that want I tell myself.
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