Digging your own digital grave: how should you manage the data you leave behind?


Arash Shaghaghi, Author provided

Patrick Scolyer-Gray, Deakin University; Arash Shaghaghi, Deakin University, and Debi Ashenden, Deakin University

Throughout our lifetimes we consume, collate, curate, host and produce a staggering quantity of data – some by our own hand, some by others on our behalf, and some without our knowledge or consent.

Collectively, our “digital footprints” represent who we are and who we were. Our digital legacies are immortal and can impact those we leave behind.

Many of us take steps to secure our privacy while we’re alive, but there’s mounting evidence that we should be equally concerned about the privacy and security risks of our “data after death”.

Reincarnation as data

It might be tempting to think of data after death as inconsequential – after all, we’ll no longer be around to worry about it. However, Facebook and Instagram both support static “memorial” accounts for the deceased. We also know memorial pages can play an important part of the grieving process.

Facebook has around 300 million accounts belonging to the deceased. Research suggests this figure could rise into the billions within decades.

However, these platforms’ terms of service don’t address how the data of deceased users is retained, processed or shared.

There is now even more cause for concern with the emergence of platforms like TikTok and Likee, which have both proven to be particularly liable to expose the personal lives of millions online.

This raises important questions, such as:

  • what are platforms such as Facebook doing with the data after death they collect?

  • is it ever deleted?

  • could it be sold or otherwise monetised?

  • what assurances do we have our data will continue to be hosted by those providers after death?

  • if not, who will be able to access and manage our data in the future?

In 2012, a teenage girl died after being hit by a subway train in Berlin. Her parents had her Facebook credentials and wanted to access her account to determine whether she had committed suicide. After six years of legal battles, the parents were awarded a court order and finally given access to their child’s “memorial” Facebook account data.

We all have skeletons in the closet

COVID-19 has completely changed our internet use patterns. The unplanned transition to working from home has blurred the boundaries between our professional and personal lives.




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Why some governments fear even teens on TikTok


Consequently, personal information is now more likely to be exchanged over services such as Microsoft Teams. Many users may choose to store confidential information on personal cloud services for the sake of convenience.

With these changes in behaviour, new vulnerabilities have emerged. When a user dies, it’s now more important than ever personal and otherwise sensitive information is automatically identified and secured.

Hands typing on a laptop
Working remotely or in networked teams can make data less secure.
John Schnobrich/Unsplash, CC BY

Colleagues of the departed may forget to revoke access credentials, which can then be used to steal intellectual property. Embarrassing email exchanges that belonged to the dead can damage reputations, and sensitive information can negatively affect entire businesses and potentially ruin lives.

In 2016, a Twitter account belonging to the well-known US journalist David Carr was hacked by a sexting bot a year after his death. Earlier, in 2010, 16-year-old vlogger Esther Earl died of cancer before she could cancel a tweet she had scheduled for release that left friends and family in shock.

The need for data management after death

Most Australians don’t have a conventional will, so it’s not surprising the digital equivalent hasn’t gained traction.

In collaboration with the Australian Information Security Association (AISA), we surveyed about 200 AISA members to assess their awareness of digital wills and associated Australian regulations that protect users’ security and privacy. Our survey results confirmed that even key decision makers in the field and cybersecurity thought leaders had not considered or prepared for posthumous data risks.

But raising awareness is only part of the battle. There are no national regulatory bodies, rules or standards for service providers to follow when managing the data of the deceased. And in Australia there are no laws or regulations imposing requirements to minimise the risks of data after death.

We need a solution that can resolve issues ranging from moral quandaries about posthumous medical data, to privacy concerns about accessing past digital correspondences.

To be effective, such a solution will require legal and policy recommendations, guidelines and technological adaptations for providers, decision-makers and users. Each aspect will need to be sensitive to context and accommodate for grief and mourning among individuals and organisations. For example, there is often a period of compassionate leave available for employees when members of their immediate family pass away.

Some processes meant to manage data after death already exist, but they need more development. Technological solutions for data after death proposed thus far fall into the category known as privacy-enhancing technologies – tools meant to protect users’ privacy.

Users have been reluctant and slow to adopt privacy enhancing technologies. In part, this is because they don’t allow individuals the ability to control how they manage their privacy risks.The Conversation

Patrick Scolyer-Gray, Research Fellow, Cyber Security, Deakin University; Arash Shaghaghi, Lecturer, Cybersecurity, Deakin University, and Debi Ashenden, Professor of Cyber Security and Human Behaviour, Deakin University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Facebook will provide “Look Back” video to dead users’ loved ones

Facebook will provide “Look Back” video to dead users’ loved ones

Gigaom

Facebook(s fb) is changing its policies for deceased users, offering loved ones the chance to obtain a video montage of someone who has passed. The news comes weeks after Facebook, in response to a YouTube plea, granted a grieving father’s request to see his late son’s “Look Back” video, a one-minute compilation the company offers to all its users.

In a policy statement issued on Friday, Facebook said it received many additional requests for videos of the deceased, and it now has a page where loved ones can make such requests.

The statement also announces a change to “memorial pages.” These are Facebook profiles of late users that remain online, allowing people to leave tribute messages.

Until now, only a dead person’s Facebook friends could view their memorial page. Now, the company explains that anyone will be able to see the page — if that is what a person permitted when they were…

View original post 95 more words

As memories stay online, social companies like Facebook must find better ways to help grieving families

Gigaom

A Missouri man posted a video on YouTube(s goog) this week, asking “Mr. Zuckerberg” to pass on his late son’s Look Back video, a short movie montage that Facebook(s fb) recently gave to all its users. The man described his plea, which came two years after his 21-year-old son’s death, as a long shot — but it worked.

The YouTube video received more than 1 million views after it received attention on sites like Reddit and BuzzFeed, and Facebook soon responded:

FB screenshot

In response to an email inquiry, Facebook confirmed the man’s story but could provide few additional details. A spokesperson wrote:

With the number of people using our service, it’s often very difficult to act on behalf of one. But John’s story and emotion moved us to take action — so we did. This experience reinforced to us that there’s more Facebook can do to help people celebrate and commemorate…

View original post 604 more words

Website: Family iBoard

I have over the years tried to find a site that could be useful for housing something of a private family social network. They have usually proved to be less than suitable. It will probably be something I have another shot at as I get back into the family history research and work on the website again.

The site I’m probably going to look into a bit with the hope that it may assist in accomplishing the private social network side of things is Family iBoard. I only recently became aware of it, so I haven’t had a lot of opportunity to investigate at this stage. However, the article linked to below in which the site was reviewed by Mashable, does fill me with a lot of hope. The only real issue will be getting family members to join, especially given the fees involved. But at roughly $8.00 a year, it’s hardly a huge fee and could prove very useful.

What do others think of the idea? I’d be keen to know. It really seems like a very good site for this sort of thing.

View the Mashable article at:
 http://mashable.com/2012/09/07/family-iboard/

Family History Return

I have been away from genealogy for far too long and have started to get busy again. I certainly don’t have the amount of time to put into it as I have had previously, but I do want to start spending some time on my family history again.

Car accidentI guess the last 5 years have been more than a little slow in terms of my involvement in family history and this has been for a number of reasons, including a slow and painful recovery from a major car accident 4 1/2 years ago, which took a lot longer to recover from than I anticipated. Though I returned to work after about 4 months, the process of recovery took a lot longer than that and I found the effort required at work took some time to get over when I was away from work. It was a difficult time and it was 2 years after the accident that I was fully cleared from any lingering problems associated with the brain injury that I sustained in the accident. It also took about that long to become completely free of any pain associated from the other injuries I suffered.

Since then there have been other things to keep me away from genealogical interests, which have not completely disappeared and I am sure there will be other challenges that pop up from time to time. Still, I think I can now inject some time and effort into the family history side of things again. There is much that needs to be done and I would especially like to complete the book I have been working on for some time. An edition or two were published on the website in the form of PDF files, but this work needs to be replaced due to some errors that appear in it. I am reminded of these errors from time to time, but it has proven difficult until now to get back to the necessary work required to correct them with an updated edition. This will hopefully take place sooner rather than later, though there is much work that needs to be done.

So, back to work it is. This Blog will be the means of updating progress on projects and the like, as well as the Facebook page.

Tracing our History Chat Chanels are Open

Tracing our History is developing a set of tools for enhancing the ability of family members to trace our history together in a collaborative and interactive manner. To do this I am setting up channels and groups within various social networks and web applications. All of these tools and sites provide a plethora of free opportunities for family members to help make our family research more interesting, exciting and useful for all. Please consider joining one or all of these sites listed on the ‘Research Collaboration Features’ page at Tracing our History.

http://tracingourhistory.com/collaboration.html

I have now set up two real time chat/file sharing possibilities via the collaboration page, with two different social networking sites (Pip.io and Micromobs). To get involved with either site or both you will need to join the site and the channel that I have set up (on each of the sites). You can find both sites via the link above or go directly to Pip.io and/or Micromobs at:

The Tracing our History channel at Pip.io can be found via the link below:
http://pip.io/#/channel/tracingourhistory

The Tracing our History ‘mob’ at Micromobs can be found via the link below:
http://micromobs.com/mob/3e663ac1686f86d36c9cb4d23da5cd77

Site Updates

Just some minor news regarding the site and associated sites – yes, I have been doing a little work over there.

I have removed the old guestbook and several links to what are now obsolete portions of the site/other sites. These include the old guestbook which had been bombarded with spam and the Yahoo mail groups which are long gone. I have now incorporated a page on the ‘Tracing Our History’ Blog for use as a Guestbook.

There have also been some minor changes to various content on the main page, as well as the addition of various sharing ‘buttons’ at the top of the page, such as sharing on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, posting to Digg, etc.

A CENTRAL MEETING POINT: Tracing our History

I am excited about this new Blog which I am hoping to use as a central meeting point for interaction between family members, no matter which actual means an individual family member or friend may use to get here. You may come via a Facebook group, a Yahoo Mail Group, the Blog itself or from the web site, yet hopefully this will be a means for communication and interaction with other family members, some of whom you may never have met before.

My family history research and publication of it via the web has brought me into touch with various family members from around the world, including England, Canada, the United States and Australia. Hopefully this Blog will increase my circle of contacts and also allow others in the family to enter into the fruits of my labour, as well as sharing their own.

The ‘Tracing our History’ Blog will provide a central meeting point for our family, no matter the surname, the distance between us or what side of the family you may be on. It provides an opportunity for getting involved to whatever degree you may be comfortable with.

Some further opportunities to increase our experience of familial communication, discovery and interaction are listed below:

 

Matthews Family Mail Group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MatthewsFamilyMail/

This mail group is a means for members of the family on my father’s (Brian John Matthews) side to stay in touch with each other via email.

 

Lilley Family Mail Group:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LilleyFamilyMail/

This mail group is a means for members of the family on my mother’s (Edna Ivy Elizabeth Lilley) side to stay in touch with each other via email.

 

Kevin’s Family – Online History Site:
http://particularbaptist.com/matthewshistory/index.html

This is my family history web site where I maintain online my family history research. It is generally a bit behind what I have in hard copy, but I do try to update as regularly as I can.

 

The Family – Descendants of Mary Bagg (b1770): http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=43863243859

This Facebook group is there for those on Facebook who are descendants of Mary Bagg (born in 1770) and Josiah Roberts (b 1770). Their children were Sarah Bagg (b 7/2/1796 – d 23/6/1799) and Joseph Roberts-Bagg (b 6/7/1801 – d 28/10/1882). Joseph married Ann Vincent (b 1799 – d 8/4/1874) on the 8/4/1822. Their children were Ann (b 1821), William (b 1822), James (b 1826), John (b 5/1828 – d 10/4/1900), Mary (b 1831), Eliza (b 1832), George (b 1/1/1835 – d 30/4/1916) and Charles (b 15/8/1838).

 

Kevin’s Family – Online History Message Board/Forum:
http://kevinsfamilyhistory.aimoo.com/

You may be familiar with message boards or forums – they provide an opportunity to raise questions and to discuss various issues. Feel free to contribute here.

 

About Tracing our History

Below is what I have added to the ‘About Tracing our History’ page on the Blog site:

‘Tracing our History’ exists for a whole range of reasons – informing, educating, entertaining, updating, sharing, etc. The Blog is concerned with a number of family surnames including Lilley, Matthews, Blanch, Randall, Bagg/s, Webb, Jenkinson, and quite a few more – in short, it will be relevant to any surname that is represented in our family history (as long as the person concerned is actually part of our family history).

This Blog exists for my family, as does my web site at:

http://particularbaptist.com/matthewshistory/index.html

I am of course the chief contributor to this Blog (and the before mentioned web site) and also the moderator of it. I do however welcome contributions from others in the family and will consider adding contributors to the management team of the Blog. This is something I would love to do. If you do want to add something please let me know.

I am hoping that this Blog site will further assist my research into our family history, as well as others who are pursuing the same goal and will therefore enable us together to trace our history both in Australia and abroad.

If you can assist us in tracing our history please contact us and share what information you have – be it documents, family trees, photographs, video, records, etc. It will all help to put together as comprehensive a family history as we can, in order to share it with others in the family today, as well as preserving our history for those who will come after us. In this regard we can put together something of a ‘cyber-museum’ if you like.

For about me visit either of the pages below:

http://particularbaptist.com/matthewshistory/kevins.html

http://particularbaptist.com/kevins/kevin.html

Thanks for visiting – come again and contribute if you can,

Kevin Matthews