Inactive Account Manager from Google

I recently went into Hospital for an operation. Whilst it wasn’t for anything serious and could possibly be considered routine, it still left me worried about not waking up. This also made me think about all the photos and other data that I have stored across various accounts on the Internet.

Last year a family member died and there were quite a few photos to go through. Accessing these photos wasn’t difficult though, because they had them all nicely stored in photo albums in a cupboard. Although I have a couple of photo albums from when I was younger, I choose to store my photos online in Picasa Web Albums using my Google Account. Most of these online albums are private as they are there for backup purposes only really.

Previously the only way to allow other people access to these photos would have been to give them my password, which isn’t the most secure way, even if you fully trust the person. What if you change the password because of a security breach and you forget to tell them the new password?

Some would say that I could just share the albums and then they can download them as they wanted. However, we aren’t just talking photos. My contacts are all stored online too. As well as data in DropBox and Google Drive. I also have several other online accounts (Facebook for example).

Google have covered our backs here with the new Inactive Account Manager which is available through your Google Account settings page.
Inactive Account Manager from Google

Here’s how Google describe the service working:

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.

I’d like to see the other major online services do the same (Facebook, DropBox for example). It’s certainly something that I am going to look at enabling, so my data can be accessed when it needs to be after my death. Maybe you should too….

Source: Google Public Policy Blog