Since the late 90’s, when I started accumulating more and more personal files, having my own computer, I wondered what would happen to what was on that precious harddrive if I were to die. More precisely, what would happen to my passworded information? A bit morbid for a 17 y/o to think about, but a reality nonetheless. Nowadays we have quantities of digital possessions.
Recently, the thought resurfaced when my grandfather passed away a few months ago. He taught me how to use a computer and, needless to say, had many unique and extremely precious diary notes about family, friends, businesses. Thankfully, my uncle took charge of the computer and ensured nothing was lost.
When I read the story of the young American marine who died at war, I was particularly interested in seeing how Yahoo! would deal with it.
It’s an old story with a new twist. A young marine is killed in the line of duty and his parents request all his belongings, including his correspondence – in this case, his e-mail.
The Internet company refuses to give out the marine’s password, saying that would violate its privacy rules. The parents go to court, causing a storm of discussion on the Net and in the media.
The company has to stand by its rules to give the public trust in the confidentiality clauses, but in this case, it was only right to let the family access their son’s email account after his death.
Darren brought up the concept of “digital mortician”, a person responsible for the triage of your computer accounts and files. Losing a family member is heartbreaking and having to wade through tons of files is an experience that some may prefer to avoid.
Interesting how this is yet another necessity created by our technological culture, where digital belongings may be just as important as physical ones, if not more.
I feel sorry for whoever has to sort out the bucketloads of emails I’ve accumulated over the years… Between Darren’s Hungarian duck porn and my europop singing llama mp3s, there’s enough to keep digital morticians in business for a long time.