Thursday, April 11, 2013

Plan your digital afterlife with Inactive Account Manager

Posted by Andreas Tuerk, Product Manager

Not many of us like thinking about death — especially our own. But making plans for what happens after you’re gone is really important for the people you leave behind. So today, we’re launching a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your digital assets when you die or can no longer use your account.

The feature is called Inactive Account Manager — not a great name, we know — and you’ll find it on your Google Account settings page. You can tell us what to do with your Gmail messages and data from several other Google services if your account becomes inactive for any reason.

For example, you can choose to have your data deleted — after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. Or you can select trusted contacts to receive data from some or all of the following services: +1s; Blogger; Contacts and Circles; Drive; Gmail; Google+ Profiles, Pages and Streams; Picasa Web Albums; Google Voice and YouTube. Before our systems take any action, we’ll first warn you by sending a text message to your cellphone and email to the secondary address you’ve provided.

We hope that this new feature will enable you to plan your digital afterlife — in a way that protects your privacy and security — and make life easier for your loved ones after you’re gone.

 

85 comments:

Micah.S said...

thanks guys; this is very comforting to know that my wife will have access to my data should the worst occur.

James Wright said...

Will this feature be available for use in Google Apps accounts, or only Gmail personal accounts?

Alexandre Alapetite said...

Good initiative. It would be nice to be able to customise the delay after which messages are automatically sent to the different persons. E.g. 3 months for person A, 4 months for person B, etc.

JoAnn said...

This is a beautiful thing.

Damn it Google. I just can't quit you.

Chandrasekar Rathineswaran said...

You can call it "my will" ;)

Mohsin Khan said...

I always thought about this... And Google has the solution ready... Love you all... Keep coming such great tools.

Abhishek Vohera said...

Nice thought.... I always wonder that what will happen when someone will check my profile or other data... When I will b no more....

Rama Krishna Sistu said...

Great

Peter said...

You had me at "digital afterlife". Thank you again for all you do.

Brandon Hann said...

I'm guessing the reason it's not available for Google Apps accounts is because in theory, those accounts are all owned by the company running it and the company would be responsible for users' data when they die.

But some of us use Google Apps just for personal use so we can get email on our own domains through Google. What about us??

Esteban Cuevas said...
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Esteban Cuevas said...

I want to ask same as James Wright: Google Apps? please.

In my case we some personal information in our accounts on a family-only domain.

I really hope you guys consider Google Apps, please.

Ryan Davis said...

Thanks google in today's age we live on forever with your amazing services

Tavis Highfill said...

I have frequently thought about this as well. I don't want my private information falling into the wrong hands but because of my OCD, I don't really like the idea of it just sitting there, forever. This is a very helpful feature. I appreciate your support.

Terry Cameron said...

Love this. Can you let me post from the grave as well? Heh

Matt Sells said...

Awesome

Charles Torvalds said...

Great! What's the max length of time you'll keep? Please say until the singularity!

Unknown said...

This is simply pathetic.. my wife simply needs my password (that she already knows..who should I trust more than her ?) To have access to all of my accounts.. a "service" like that is totally useless and almost disturbing.. only a hype generator. I appreciate Google for the multitude of free services out offers by this one is simply not one of them imho

downtown said...

I dont't care about leaving my +1's. We should be able to leave to someone the books, music and apps we bought! Funny how I could share useless things like feeds on Reader (since Reader itself needs a will by now)

Unknown said...
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928Hills said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
928Hills said...

Now I can die in peace.

Dimitris Serifis said...

The point here is that Google is not accesible from paradise :-) try harder guys... Please...

Zeal Vurte said...

Not sure I understand the reasoning behind requiring you enter a mobile phone number and verifying it if you just want to use the one already verified on your account? :S

Would also be nice to enable without having to set the Notify Contacts and Share Data. Surely that should be optional too if you just want to delete?

Komal said...

I think this is a good initiative by Google but still other assets such as iTune accounts, e-books should be transferred. I think services such as www.plannedDeparture.com can help address digital assets transfer issue.

Unknown said...

You cannot start with 'simply pathetic' and end with 'humble opinion'. There is nothing humble in your opinion. Some of us don't want our data to be shared with anyone or to be sitting there forever. So it is a worthwhile option.

Unknown said...

Where do you think the deleted data go? Now you can set the time limit for how long after your existence ends, can you have access to your Google account on the other side of the life as you know.

WittZi said...

Obvious troll is obvious.

I think that this is a fantastic feature. You don't really want to be giving people your passwords just in case something happens, so this makes perfect sense.

I agree with the product manager though; the same sucks! ;-P

Daniel O'Connor said...

And why, oh why, are people not trusting their spouses with their passwords while they are alive?

Ryan Standeven said...

What if you don't have a spouse? What if you get a divorce and forgot to change your pw?
That's why...

Joel Garry said...

For those who say "who can I trust with my password more than my wife:" Please google ex-wife hacks facebook

I don't trust my wife with the admin password of her own pc, for that matter. She's more trustworthy than most (teaches ethics to grad students, among other things), but that is unrelated to the damage she can do from ignorance of technical capabilities.

Come on, people, do I need to say it? DON'T SHARE PASSWORDS!

And I can't say as I really trust google to do the right thing, between slipstreaming code changes that break security and eye-wideners like asking the first person to login at some random time to add their phone number, jeez, I want rubber biscuits.

pereshaped said...

I use my gmail to catalogue my research. I send myself notes, thoughts, creative ideas etc and I have set up filters to put these in the right folders.

What would be a very innovative feature is to allow specific folders to be linked to third party emails so in the case of death appointed emailees could be alerted and have access to those folders.

This would be an amazing personal curating feature

Explainafide said...

I can just imagine lawyers licking their lips at the amount of additional work that has been created by transference of people's digital footprints in wills and the like.

It certainly opens up many complex issues.

N. said...

I can't access my old account. But this new feature doesn't let me do so either. So what's the point of the new feature!?

I don't have a Google+ of Scholar account because of this.

Simon said...

It's a fantastic idea! I just would like a longer period of time to be set, like even as long as 2 years. I know Google can afford to wait that long.
It would make sure that people who perhaps get in some sort of shipwreck or political situation in another country or something wouldn't have their data erased as easily.

Tman said...

What happens if we don't set anything...ie, what is the default? I'd like an option for my data to sit there forever...I've left my passwords in digital files and documents for my son, but if I died tomorrow he wouldn't check them for many years as he is too young.

bounce776 said...

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Chris Duncan said...

This service is for making your wife's life easier by managing your digital accounts for her so she can focus on other details of handling your death. It's a fantastic idea, and your opinion is wrong.

Behnam Esfahbod said...

Apparently you have to have SMS services to die, nowadays.

Wish there was a way to get one without paying at least $10/month.

hobbitt said...

If I select the delete option, how long do my trusted contacts have to download the data before Google deletes it?

mercalia beck said...

hmm that make me a bit worried if policy changes after someone has died ? I have/had a friend who died a year ago now, who left more than 300 videos of his european travels. I hate to think that all his work will be just deleted as there is no one now who would be contacted, he was a very old man. He died within a few months of his last trip that took him many hours while in a hospice to post on YouTube. It meant so much to him ( search 481karl on Youtube) what about people like that?

Sumit Kumar said...

Awesome. I was just thinking about it yesterday and I have it today. Its just amazing how you can read my thoughts.
Thanks again for the feature

Charmin Patel said...

this service is knon as GOOGLE DIGITAL WILL...thanx http://Twitter.com/apshome

John Bowler said...

Oops, not quite:

"You are trying to access Inactive Account Manager from a Google Apps Account. Inactive Account Manager is only available for Google Accounts."

Oops.

John Bowler said...

Sign up for a GV number (this is free), use that as the SMS number.

The problem is it doesn't work for Google Apps accounts:

"You are trying to access Inactive Account Manager from a Google Apps Account. Inactive Account Manager is only available for Google Accounts."

*That* is the data I want to delete if the account becomes inactive.

John Bowler

Palla Ramarao said...

What about Google Adsense. Will this work for that services also?

Trevor Brass said...

I'm only 21 and I think this is an excellent idea. Considering how much data of practical (ex: financial information) and sentimental (ex: pictures of me and grandma) value most of us have online this is an idea whose time has come! Think of the extra stress your loved ones and friends would have to go through trying to access this data when you die if this wasn't set up.

c said...

what do you do if you do not have a mobile number? it won't let me use this service because i have a landline. not fair

Hamza Ghanchi said...

Nice Feature from Google. Personally I would defiantly choose to delete data rather than giving access to my personal data to anyone(though they are family) !

Karoly Debreczeni said...

I'm also asking about its availability for Google Apps accounts. I use Google Apps for my family...

jock said...

Google is by far the best company ever. From android to web to chrome i use their products all day every day and this is just another example of how they understand their users and their needs, go on google ya good thing!

Ben said...
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Ben said...

Hi Google - please switch on for Google Apps too. I use Google Apps for my family. If the issue is that Apps is also run by business, you could have it limited so that it only gives access to another account on the same domain, or have the admin control panel able to turn the feature on for the domain or even for individual accounts. I hope you can do this, otherwise, the features pretty useless to me and anyone else who has a personal Google Apps.

BloggerFrogger said...

If the user is really dead, you can add the "lay flowers" on its virtual pedestal. thereby relatives who can not come to a great distance can pay tribute to a man.

BloggerFrogger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blair McDougall said...

Great idea.... The problem is I also do not have a land-line, otherwise I would be all over this... I agree, not fair..

alireza zare said...

This is very nice feature for google services.
Thanks GOogle :)

LonMcGregor said...

I can't help but notice that adsense data is not included in the list for deletion. How odd.
Nevertheless, this is a good idea. probably.

SecureSafe said...

We welcome this new Google service and see that finally the large provides recognize the necessity of preserving digital assets - BUT a service like SecureSafe not only guarantees you that your data and passwords can stored for your family - it is 100% secure as well. Check it out for free at www.securesafe.com

Biju toha said...

This is an extraordinary option that google finally launched . Really felt something like that what will be in future after death about my all services of google !!! but they read my mind . thanks google and thanks all technical supporter of G

micheal clark said...

It is a very nice and informative article.It is a very useful article.The protection of data is a big issue now a days.Can this feature is available for G-mail account?Technology growing very fast which makes our life more secure and protected.Computer is the great invention of the technology.To get information about computer you can visit best computers

ياسين عباس said...

I wonder if you should also add counselling advice to the page.

I'm not sure if granting access to the "dead" - months after the fact - would be a selfish act on the part of the deceased in that the sense of loss experienced by those left behind would have to be re-experienced yet again (sore wounds opened).

I dunno - it's a double edged sword - I like that the feature exists, but there needs to be some level of netiquette. For example - the recipient must "accept" the request. (having not gone through the steps here - I don't know if this whole process is a one-sided affair.)

Steve said...

I like the idea. We are never really prepared for the end and this could enable people to put things in place for their loved ones should the unexpected happen.

Rich Boakes said...

How long before someone uses this for the ultimate rickroll?

Kelly McClain said...

This is the first time I can say I am glad I did not beta test...

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Paul Martel said...

API, please! I've wanted to do something like this for years; especially with the notifications via e-mail/text :-) Way to go Google team

陸重輝 said...

I login my account not very often, may be one or ten years one time. But the account is in use. Don't put me to go.

coach-daddy said...

I wonder if this means there's no Google in the afterlife. We might have to use Yahoo! in Heaven, and hotmail in hell.

Sameer Alibhai said...

I'm dissapointed this is not enabled for Google Apps.

Unknown said...

Excellent idea, and mostly very well implemented.

But useless to me because it demands a phone number to send SMS to, which I don't have.

I'm pleased to see it will send warnings to several email addresses, but could you make the phone message optional?

Benis Xelmz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benis Xelmz said...

I keep getting "Could not verify phone number" in a red box at the top of the page. However, it is not sending me a code as requested, nor is the box where I am entering the code being drawn.

atiqur rahman said...

Awesome idea..every new innovative tool only possible by Google

Peter Eirew said...

There is www.RecordMeNow.org for after your die.

The authors interviewed over 100 people who had a parent die when they were a child - to find out what they wished they knew from or about them

www.RecordMeNow.org has a free and private app so you can videorecord your personal answers to key questions that will give solace and support to your loved ones when you die (especially your kids)

How do I know this ? - I am one of the authors !
Use it just in case - it's like free emotional insurance for your kids

Gaby Eirew
Director www.RecordMeNow.org

Hemant said...

Thank you for taking time to realize the importance of this feature.

Karthik said...

Great Idea.. Always thought what would happen to what will happens to my small creative works which I have shared with everyone.. I wanted to leave my footprints in the sands of time... thanks google has given one way for that...

Admin said...

works great, lots more info http://www.googleinactiveaccountmanager.com/

Benny Helms said...

+Peter Eirew

Awesome idea for an application!

I wish my dad could have made such a recording for me before he passed. :-(

dave m said...

Will your "trusted contacts" be notified at the time that you add them as trusted contacts (i.e. now?) Or can you write something nice and personal in the message field that you only want them to see if the worst happens?

Stefan Sundin said...

It should be possible to check a checkbox that generates a new password for the trusted contacts. It will be easy to forget to update this info when you change your password.

Setty Grandhi said...

In the early days when I did not know how Google works,I gave my real name.How can I delete those posts as I wish to remain anonymous for those postings ?

sunil said...

Great Guys...I used to think about it and finally got it...Good Work Google...

Jnanadarshan said...

This feature has been directly inspired from my blog. The death report mechanism is exactly the same as I proposed. Do read and comment back.
Here http://www.jdnayak.com/blog/2012/07/proposing-the-facebook-deaihd-profilespages-3/

BestSeobooks said...

brilliant work by google