Google: What happens to your personal data after your death?

When you’re so used to keeping your digital life centralized on Google, it can be tough when it’s not an option. The images we click and even the messages we send or send to others could very well be close to someone who is important in your life. Google recognized this challenge, and now there’s a new way that anyone, even someone you have your account password-protected for can gain access to your account if something unfortunate happened after you passed away.

It’s common to feel like the data you might be leaving behind is a treasure—even if it’s not your whole life. With Google, this is more than just a possibility: the company has created an ‘Inactive Account Manager’ that ensures that users can share parts of their data with trusted family members or friends. Set your account up so that all of your data, even in its entirety, will be deleted upon your death.

Google allows users to ‘forget’ their account if they are inactive for over 90 days.

Instead of manually sharing parts of your account data with people or sending out notifications when you’ve been inactive for a certain period of time, Inactive Account Manager can do all the work for you.

Simply go to your account settings, click on your gender. The support page of Google explains as;

With this setup, Google will be able to understand if you are accessing your business’s email. This includes your activity on Gmail, Android check-ins, and any other activity that may indicate that you’re not where you say you are.

If your Google account has been inactive for too long, Google automatically deletes all data associated with the account. The only option they offer is to pick a date range when it will be deleted. This could range from three months to six months, to 12 months to 18 months. Google also lets you contact the user two months before this “inactive period” starts.

In order to set up a trusted contact, you need to provide them with your email address and phone number. This is done so they can’t steal your data while it’s in transit. Google also says that users will only be willing to hand over their private data if it’s something that the “trusted contact” needs in order for them to have a better experience with Google services. By limiting what information is given to the trusted contact and only giving them what they need, Google ensures their data will be kept secure.

Google will send notifications to trusted contacts when your account is inactive. Notifications during the setup process are not possible. You can also choose an email with a personalized message, which can be sent to your trusted contact when Google shares the data with them. Google’s page explains that the email will have a footer ‘explaining that you’ve instructed Google to send an email on your behalf.’ The email will also have a link to all the shared data they can download.

Now that you’ve set up your Inactive Account feature, how did it go?

To set up the feature, click “Manage your Google Account” just to the left of your profile picture on Gmail. Now, head over to the Data & Privacy tab and keep scrolling down.

You will find a ‘More Options’ tab on the left-hand side of the page. One of the options is ‘Make a plan for your digital legacy’ and then follows with ‘plan what happens to your data” written next to it.

Google has released a new feature that allows you to see when your Inactive Account Manager is turned on or turned off. You can tap on Start and choose email reminders, too!

What do you do if Google decides your account is inactive and your legacy plan kicks in? One option would be to set up a new plan. But because Google doesn’t seem to offer that option, you can turn off your older plan by heading into the first section of settings. You’ll then get to decide the time frame before it gets triggered.

Once an account is deemed inactive, Google will send a series of reminders by text and email. All information must be provided when signing up for the account so that Google can send you important messages.

In the second part of this process, Google will ask you to provide the email addresses of people who should be notified or have access to your data. You can also choose up to 10 contacts, which then allows us to share additional information with them. You’ll select what you want them to know from a separate menu that opens up when you add the contact.

There is also a question asking “Should we delete your Google Account if it becomes inactive?” If you choose yes and you have completed your plan, there are also instructions on how to review it.

What happens if someone passes away without making additions to their plan?

If a person dies with their Google account, the company will try to contact their immediate family members in order to close it. The company may provide some content from the deceased person’s account if they are able.

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