Concept for making use of Google’s ‘Inactive Account Manager’ feature

2013-04-13

in Geek stuff, Internet matters, Law, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Security

Presumably after considering the consequences of doing so, Google has become a sort of unusual executor of the digital estates of users who opt in to their ‘Inactive Account Manager’ feature.

They are given the option to set how long a ‘timeout period’ must pass before the system kicks in.

They are then allowed to automatically notify and potentially share data with up to 10 “trusted friends or family members”.

They can then add an autoresponder message, either for anyone who emails them or just for contacts.

Finally, they can set up a system to delete their account.

In a way, this looks a lot like a Dead man’s switch.

The concept

This system relies upon the autoresponder feature.

If you have data that you wish to make publicly available only after your death, encrypt it with a secure-yet-commonly-used algorithm like AES.

Put the key in the body of your Google post-mortem autoresponse email.

In all likelihood, the key will circulate and people will be able to decrypt the files which you wish for them to decrypt.

I am sure Google thought this through, but it seems to me that this system might encourage suicides. There can be a certain attraction in going out by means of a dramatic gesture, and this system makes it a lot easier.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

. April 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

One who executes or carries out (a purpose, design, command, work, etc.); one who carries into action, or puts into practice (some quality); a conductor or manager (of affairs); an administrator or enforcer of (a law, vengeance, etc.); an agent, doer, performer, executer; in Sc. Law, one who serves a writ or executes a warrant.

. April 13, 2013 at 11:31 pm

3. a. A person appointed by a testator to execute or carry into effect his will after his decease. literary executor n. one who is entrusted with the care of the papers and unpublished works of a literary man.

. April 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm

Google’s rolled out an “Inactive Account Manager” — a dead-man’s switch for your Google accounts. If you set it, Google will watch your account for protracted inactivity. After a set period, you can tell it to either squawk (“Email Amnesty International and tell them I’m in jail,” or “Email my kids and tell them I’m dead and give them instructions for probating my estate”) and/or delete all your accounts. This has a lot of use-cases, from preventing your secrets from being tortured out of you (before you go to a protest, you could set your dead-man’s switch to a couple hours — if you end up in jail and out of contact, all your stuff would be deleted before you were even processed by the local law) to easing the transition of your digital “estate.”

. April 14, 2013 at 11:25 pm
. June 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Greenwald: Snowden’s Files Are Out There if “Anything Happens” To Him
by Eli Lake Jun 25, 2013 1:36 PM EDT

Snowden has shared encoded copies of all the documents he took so that they won’t disappear if he does, Glenn Greenwald tells Eli Lake.

. August 16, 2013 at 8:49 pm

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