aNewDomain.net — There’s a chance Baby Boomers will get a digital afterlife. That is, in the Orwellian singularity future provided by Tom Scott (video below). The issue comes about because our digital lives — those embodied by our social networks, banking institutions, digital music etc. — don’t currently have a clear path to death.Social media is our modern diary,tech companies own all the keys-forever.
Life used to be a version of simple: Get said life, control it and leave it in clear terms upon death. But today your life is broadcast on Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and all of those companies might, without explicit permission upon death, use your digital assets for advertising.
Companies have largely maintained control over who should be granted access to digital accounts once someone dies. Imagine what it will be like for someone to make sense of it after you die: photos from family trips posted on Flickr, e-filed tax return PDFs tucked in a desktop folder or maybe even bitcoins stashed in some hidden on the backup hard drive.
A tragic example is Jacob Anderson.
His body was found in December 2013, near the Stone Arch Bridge, but it’s unclear how the 19-year-old University of Minnesota freshman ended up there after walking a friend home from a party. His parents tried to access his text messages and other digital data, hoping to learn more, but they ran into roadblocks because the case was ruled accidental. (More access may have been available to law enforcement in a criminal case.)
They’ve since launched an online petition, ‘Allow Access to Jake’s Digital Data,’ asking for support to change laws governing access to digital data after death. It’s garnered more than 3,900 signatures.”
New law to sort out digital rights
A proposed law by the Uniform Law Commission could swing control in families’ favor. The recently drafted Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADA) would grant fiduciaries broad authority to access, and control, digital assets. 14 states are discussing a proposal that concerns millions:
“Few laws exist on the rights of fiduciaries over digital assets. Few holders of digital assets and accounts consider the fate of their online presences once they are no longer able to manage their assets. And these assets have real value: according to a 2011 survey from McAfee, Intel’s security-technology unit, American consumers valued their digital assets, on average, at almost $55,000. These assets range from online gaming pieces to photos, to digital music, to client lists, to bank accounts, to bill-paying…”
Personally, as a baby boomer, I’m not waiting for a company to hold the rights to my digital afterlife. I’ll put my hopes in the law for this one.Not in singularity.
The New Age of Singularity
Here’s the video depicting the new age of singularity. It’s one humorous vision of a disturbing future, produced by Tom Scott, called “Welcome To Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers”. In it, he describes a corporate sponsored network as a resting place for the digital version of your consciousness, that is, of course, ad sponsored. In this case, as with the question today, it is perhaps best for all if your online social presence ends when you do.
Video: Welcome to Life: the singularity, ruined by lawyers
For aNewDomain.net, I’m David Michaelis.
Based in Australia, David Michaelis is a world-renowned international journalist and founder of Link Tv. At aNewDomain.net, he covers the global beat, focusing on politics and other international topics of note for our readers in a variety of forums. Email him at DavidMc@aNewDomain.net.