Bitmark + IFTTT: How to take ownership of your digital life and plan your estate.

What would happen to your personal data and digital assets if something happened to you?

The process of preparing for the transfer of assets after death is known as estate planning. Estate, a common law term, means an individual’s property, entitlements, and obligations. In modern society, legal systems have elegant solutions for handling the assets that we accumulate and create in the physical world. But increasingly the stuff we create and value most exists only in our digital lives, where there’s no system for individual ownership. In the digital environment estate planning is a minefield.

Individual humans create value by living their lives online — producing works of art, sharing ideas and opinions, uploading personal financial and health information, or buying and storing things like music and movies.

But we don’t own our stuff on the internet. We give it away for free, and, in the process, we’re losing our ability to plan for our future.

The Bitmark mission is to empower universal digital ownership, and we’re making simple tools that help you gain freedom and control of your most valuable data within the digital environment. If we could own our digital lives just like we own everything we buy and build in the physical world, wouldn’t this add to our wealth and freedom? We think so. To make digital estate planning more accessible and automated for everyone, Bitmark has partnered with IFTTT, an IoT service that gives users greater control of their personal data across a wide variety of apps and online services.

“We’re excited to have Bitmark as a partner. They’re a unique service, and doing something incredibly ambitious. Applets will help reach a broader audience that’s just beginning to think about digital data ownership and attribution.”
—Linden Tibbets, CEO of IFTTT

Start your digital estate in 5 minutes.

To get you going, we have an initial set of IFTTT Applets that interface with the digital environments where you create and share things: social media, fitness and health apps, productivity and financial software, and much more:

Bitmark IFTTT Applets

These Applets apply a mark of accepted ownership to your data and embed it into Bitmark’s standardized, universal digital property system. It’s an automated process that transforms your data into an asset that you own and pass down to loved ones.

We recommend you experiment with a few of these Applets first, and then decide which data and assets are most valuable to you. (If you’re lacking ideas, we published a blog post earlier this summer about what two of our Bitmark team members would choose.)

Here is how this process will look:

Step 1: Turn on some Applets and authorize IFTTT.

Once IFTTT is authorized, it automatically bitmarks your new property via the connected Applets. You can view your property in Bitmark’s app, where you can also issue new bitmarks for any other document type on your computer or phone:

Step 2: Check out your digital properties.

Next steps: Grant access to your estate (coming soon).

When property ownership is clear, the access and management rights to your estate, (known as fiduciary duty) is more easily worked out. These details will depend on local regulation, in the same manner as the things we own in the physical world.

Usually it requires a long, expensive, legal process for your loved ones to access your accounts — your emails, cloud storage, and digital data that’s in your name. Not to mention that, in many cases (read Twitter’s deceased user article, or Wiki article about Death and the Internet), your loved ones will never be allowed access to your accounts, and if they try, it will be a criminal offense. Ouch.

Bitmark for digital estate planning has two goals: 1) provide individuals with a structured, secure system for assigning ownership to your digital assets and data; 2) pave the way to a more free and fair legal framework for our digital lives and valuables.

Think of what we are providing today as a basic first step. Bitmark’s tools provide a framework and infrastructure to begin organizing and protecting your digital property. In the future we will add more options that make it easier to assign access to your digital estate with your lawyer, spouse, and loved ones.

“Bitmark’s work with IFTTT confirms and tracks ownership of online data, which is a significant step towards intentional management of any digital estate and future planning for incapacity and death.”
 — Megan L. Yip, Attorney, Estate planning and digital assets

Bitmark is empowering the individual to take back ownership.

Bitmark is the property system for the digital environment. As a system to manage digital property, Bitmark makes it possible to own and transfer title to anyone. For individuals, ownership is power. By establishing ownership to your data, you can in turn derive value from your digital property just as you do from the things you own in the physical world: selling, buying, transferring, donating, licensing, passing down, protecting, and much more.

This tool for digital estate planning is just one piece of our larger mission to empower universal digital ownership so we can live free online. Digital property will level the playing field for who can achieve success online — creating new avenues for wealth, prosperity, and achievement on the Internet that are not currently possible for the vast majority of people.

Read our “Defining Property in the Digital Realm: parts one, two, and three for a more in-depth context to this post.

If you would like to stay posted on future applications of Bitmark and how we are transforming the Internet into a new system built on individual freedom and empowerment, subscribe to our newsletter.

By Bitmark Inc. on July 18, 2017.

What is your digital fire drill?

What valuable items would you miss if your phone or computer was lost or stolen today?

If you were in an accident, would your loved ones be able to gain access to your digital valuables — your personal data and digital assets — if you were incapacitated? If you were to die tomorrow, which pieces of your digital property would you want your loved ones to have?

Here’s what Sean Moss-Pultz, our CEO, would take if his digital house was on fire:

  • Master keys for digital assets (bitcoin, ethereum, bitmark, …)
  • Recover codes for password manager
  • Recover codes for encrypted hard drives
  • Recover codes for online accounts with 2FA
  • SSH keys and config file
  • Genomic data (23andMe)
  • Notes containing important family, financial, tax, medical information
  • Personal photos and videos (on phones, and on instagram)
  • Health/fitness/sleep data
  • Twitter likes
  • Google Contacts
  • Chrome bookmarks
  • Kindle highlights
  • Music playlists (Spotify and Apple)
  • Important personal and business documents from specific cloud storage folders
  • Starred emails

And here is what Wan Lin, our summer intern, would take with her:

  • Personal and Facebook photos (family and boyfriend)
  • Instagram photos and videos
  • Flickr photos
  • Evernote note with #work tag
  • Files in the “Bitmark” folder on Google Drive
  • Master thesis, saved in Dropbox
  • University acceptance letter
  • Facebook friends list
  • Business contacts in iOS contact
  • Name cards scanned and saved in Evernote
  • WordPress blog posts
  • Cryptocurrency wallets
  • Data from password management app
  • Signed work contracts attached in emails
  • Reading notes saved in Evernote
  • Video of the first day my son walked by himself (when she has a son and that happens)
  • Emails related to unfinished client work, so she can continue the work
  • Artworks on Behance
  • Starred Gmail emails

Why didn’t Sean and Wan Lin include access to their Facebook and other online accounts, purchased items like Adobe Photoshop, digital music, and eBooks? The short answer is that they didn’t want their friends and family to go to jail.

Online accounts are governed by the terms-of-service agreement to which you agreed (or, more likely, clicked a mandatory agreement box without reading) upon opening your account. Those agreements, plus state and federal privacy laws and laws that criminalize unauthorized access to computers, severely limit access to online accounts. In many situations it is a criminal offense to share your accounts with any 3rd-party no matter your relation to them.

Software and digital media is equally problematic. Contracts with service providers may be automatically terminated (by the terms of service) when a customer dies. This means that there is no right for heirs to access that data. To add insult to injury, this is compounded by the fact that many digital assets are only granted with non-transferrable rights of use (a license agreement). For example, both Amazon and Apple only offer their digital products with single user rights. This means that digital products bought through such services can only be used by the purchaser, and cannot be passed on.

This is just the beginning of a conversation around living digital.

The Bitmark mission is to empower universal digital ownership so we can live free online. One of our tools will be a collection of IFTTT applets to get started building your digital estate. These applets will interface with the digital environments where we create and share things: social media, fitness and health apps, productivity and financial software, and much more. They allow users to simply apply a mark of accepted ownership to new creations and embed it into the standardized, universal digital property system Bitmark has created. This allows individuals to derive value from their digital property just as we all do from the things we own in the physical world — selling, buying, transferring, donating, licensing, passing down, protecting, and much more.

Sign up for our beta to stay posted. If you have any questions, we’re @BitmarkInc on Twitter.

By Bitmark Inc. on July 1, 2017.