Can you imagine the load of your entire data on just Google connected accounts? You may wonder. Google account data archive may be a whopping 40-50 GB in size during a lifetime (50 years of usual online activities).
And many users may not like to bequeath their digital data and want it to be deleted totally. To help such users, Google has created a tool called ‘Inactive Account Manager’ that helps users configure there to account for the time when it’s not in use.
Inactive Account Manager also lets users decide what happens to their data. They can choose trusted contacts who will be notified after they stop using your Google account. They would be able to download their data if they allow it in advance.
What you can delete?
You can delete almost everything tied to your Google account including your contacts, emails, calendar, YouTube history, location history, Chrome sync data, Google Drive and Google Photos, Google Play purchases, and data from other Google services is gone when your Google account gets deleted.
Google has following provisions for users to manage/delete data after death:
Go to My Account.
Click on Personal info & privacy.
Scroll down to find the ‘Inactive Account Manager’.
Delete Google Account After Death
Click on Start to initiate the process of auto-deleting your Google account.
The first step is to choose the time period after which Google should consider your account inactive. This can range from 3 months to 18 months.
Also, you need to provide your phone number, email address, and recovery email. Google will use these details to contact you before it deletes your account. Click on Next to continue.
Next, you can choose up to 10 trusted contacts who will be notified. You can let them download your Google Data. You can also set up automatic replies for people who send you email during the inactivity period. These settings are optional.
The last and most important step is to configure your Google account for auto-deletion. Turn on the radio button that says “Yes, delete my inactive Google Account.”
Then take a look at your inactive account settings and click on Confirm Plan to make it permanent. Google will contact you a month before your account is about to become inactive. And your Google account will be automatically deleted after three months from the day it’s marked as inactive.
This is how you stop your data going to the grave with you.
How you can protect your digital assets:
In case you want to do it on your own, prepare an inventory with details of the assets and where to find them. Its location should be made known to an agent, attorney, executor, personal representative, guardian or lawyer. Consider a digital attorney and executor to deal exclusively with your digital assets.
Also prepare an inventory of hardware like laptops, tablets, smart phones, storage devices, backup discs and other digital sources the fiduciary must locate. Decide which ones your executor can access and which should be deleted on death. This should be regularly updated.
You can also indicate whether your Facebook page should be changed to an "in memorium" page after death.
Most of us don't know we are at risk of losing all our online chattels if we are killed or incapacitated. The world will not know our secret passwords, or our digital assets would get locked away in perpetuity by social media networks or may get misused.
In fact, the government needs to formulate some policy in this regards, where digital assets of an accident victim or even a person dying of natural death should go to the right family members or may get deleted.
As everything is today stored on cloud, it is imperative that a policy is in place.