What happens to the likes of your photos, memos and emails when you die?
If you’ve got an Apple device, it may end up in a loved one’s hands thanks to its newly-announced digital legacy service. The service allows users to nominate one person who can access their data through a special Apple ID. It will allow them to see data stored in iCloud, but not stored logins or credit card details.
Psychologist Elaine Kasket, an expert on digital privacy and the author of Ghosts in the Machine, said the announcement was significant and welcomed the move.
“What’s been happening for years now is people who are bereaved … have been going into the Apple store or ringing up Apple with a death certificate … and they expect it would follow the same rules as physical stuff,” Kasket told Breakfast.
She said although people may be the next of kin of the person who had died, they found it difficult to get access to their loved one's data.
But, she warned there were still privacy questions Apple had to answer about the digital legacy service.
Kasket said the announcement of the service at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference was short and lacked detail. So, it wasn’t yet clear how much control someone could have over the data they handed over to their nominee.
From a screenshot from the event, it seemed to allow people to control whether their iCloud photos, memo notes and email could be retrieved. Kasket said the latter raised an “interesting” point about privacy.
“Like a lot of our accounts, it’s not often just about your data. It’s also about the information and the correspondence of everybody that you’ve communicated with.
“So, this is one of the questions people who are concerned about privacy in the modern digital world are wondering about … because you might be able to access the emails of the person you lost, but you’re also accessing a lot of other people’s information,” she said.
Kasket urged people to take deliberate steps to make sure their data can be retrieved once they die, because their families won’t get automatic access to it.
She didn't recommend people share their passwords, however, because that posed too many risks. She said it also put other people's information at risk if passwords end up in the wrong hands.