Desert Tale

Number 1, Volume 5

My Internet Legacy

For those who believe in the here-after life, we hope we will go to heaven. Not down below! So much for our frail bodies, but what happens to all the digital stuff? The experts say it is immortal. What will happen to my internet accounts, data, articles, emails and photos? Where will all that go? To cyber space or to some form of Google hell?

Because I am a writer with work-related copyright protection, in my Last Will and Testament, I have designated my cousin in London, even though I live in Arizona, as one of my heirs, so he will have the authority to delete all my accounts such as Google, Facebook, etc., and all my photos stored there after I die.

Online spaces offer some form of death planning. I could delete my central online presence from Facebook, even though I have hardly ever used it, preferring instead to use my own website: And what place in space would that have?

My designee would then we able to write a post, such as my obituary, which would remain at the top of my profile, and he could update my profile from my grave, as I tend to be very verbose, and before you think I am hallucinating, I have just collaborated on a book with my deceased father who left me all his photographic work from World War Two, which I have turned into a military biography. He shares the credits and his heirs the copyright protection and revenues of sales of the book.

My heir would also be permitted to download an archive of all my public activity. Or, delete everything on Facebook, once it had been notified of my death.

Google lets me choose up to ten people to be executors of my internet account, once I die, via its “inactive account manager” feature. To set this up, I would select an amount of time between sign-ins as “inactive.” Once this time has been met, my heir would receive a pre-written email from me (from the grave) as to my wishes for my accounts, including e-mails or be able to download any data.

Online back-up data services store data with private encryptions and nobody can access them. Their response is “not without a subpoena,” which means the need to go to court and that can be expensive; not to mention a delay of years. Some back-up services have protocols in place for this. So I would give my heir, ahead of time, the keys to my internet data.

I would like to know the date of my death so that I could leave things tied up in a pink ribbon in a neat package because I am extremely organized, but my crystal ball, and I do have one I inherited from a Russian gypsy in Puerto Rico, will not provide me with that answer!

So instead, I will ask my lawyer: 1) Can this internet legacy be incorporated into a living trust? 2) In the event of copyright violations or problems what venue would my heir use? Could he institute legal action in London, since American copyrights are protected under the Berne Convention, yet Britain will be exiting the European Union soon. Will this treaty be renegotiated? 3) Would he have to file probate in Arizona, or where the executive offices of Amazon, Google, etc. are located?

Alinka Zyrmont