Google unveiled a service designed to manage one of the most troublesome problems of digital life — how to deal with the accounts of people who die.
Called the Inactive Account Manager, the service offers users of Google’s Gmail, Drive, Google+, Picasa and other Google service an easy-to-use template that specifies what should happen in the event they die or become inactive for a specified period of time.
The service is found in users’ account settings page. It allows users to choose whether to have their data deleted or made available to specified trusted contacts.
Users can specify whether they want the service to take effect after three, six, nine or 12 months of inactivity. They can also specify different actions for different service such as giving an attorney power to go through emails and granting family members access to pictures in Picasa.
Before the system cuts in Google will notify account holders via text message and email to a designated address, Google said.
“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,” said Google product manager Andreas Tuerk in a blog posting.
“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.”