Who Will Inherit Your Digital Assets?
Instructions for accessing digital assets will surely become a standard part of wills and advance directives, perhaps using a set of public/private keys to ensure anthenticity of access. ISPs and online service providers could also create special protocols for allowing certain individuals "back door" access to accounts as well. But even this is risky. How would an ISP know whether it is receiving a legitimate request? Will they need to see a copy of a death certificate? Would the heirs need to obtain a court order?
There are no easy answers, and this dilemma illustrates just one more way how technology is charging ahead of our ethical and legal framework. As the information in our lives increasingly goes digital, addressing the challenge fairly will become ever more important.