Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And now -- Google Heirs

Image by M. Gustafson Gervasi, 2013 -- Mount Vernon

Yes, there is Google+, Gmail, Google Docs, and now the trailblazing company has introduced Google Heirs.  Users now have an account setting that allows users to direct where data should go when the account has been inactive for a set period of time.  What I find shocking is that the article describes this as novel.  No, the idea of directing an asset upon your death is not novel, it is called estate planning and has been around centuries.  It is only novel in the world of tech companies.

Beyond Google, companies like Facebook do not allow users to direct a person to be in charge of an account beyond death.  It simply isn't an option.  A will does not give one the authority to turn off an account for example.

Internet companies, so often on the cutting edge, appear to be behind the times in my book.  Creating a simple label on data that says what happens when you die is not new.  However, to the techie world I will acknowledge this, users are not necessarily owners.  Itunes for example is a licensing agreement.  A license is not ownership, but a right to use during life, and that right dies with you.  Most people do not realize that an actual CD with music in your own is property, a song you access on Itunes is not your property. So why should you be able to leave it upon death.

Thanks for reading, and remember a blog is not a lawyer -- please consult an attorney in your area for advice specific to your situation.

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