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.