Two things are certain in life: death and the internet.
With so many day-to-day functions, tasks and memories now taking place online, the question of what will become of your digital legacy – who will preserve, control or delete your accounts when you are gone – has become increasingly important.
Making a plan now can prevent identity theft, preserve documents and records you want saved, and stop your friends and family receiving painful pop-up reminders on social media. But from privacy issues and cybersecurity to copyright, there are many potential hurdles to organising your digital will.
Here’s what you need to know.
What can a person to do organise their digital legacy?
Dr Emily van der Nagel from Monash University says that people should spend some time planning for how their online accounts and identities will be managed after they die.
At a basic level, she says people should think of it like backing up their data. If there are things you want to preserve – for your family, friends or for your own records – it’s best to download a version so that you won’t have to rely on third-party companies.
That could be favourite photos, tweets, blog posts, videos or songs you’ve uploaded.
“A lot of platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and in some cases YouTube, offer really good tools for you to download everything that has been part of that platform,” she says. “That is really good practice to do, semi-regularly, say when you are updating your passwords.
“It is worth thinking about how you may want to save this digital content for people who might want to access it after your death. It might be good practice to curate a little bit, set up a folder.”
The reason for doing so is that once you are gone, your family, friends or an executor may find it harder to access your data than they anticipated.
“A lot of platforms have terms of service agreements that prevent other people from logging in to your account,” she says. “Of course that is a privacy thing, especially things like email accounts or social media accounts that include direct messaging. Those messages are considered private for good reason.”
What if I’m the family or friend of someone who has died?
On sites like Facebook, there are options to have people designated as “legacy contacts” who can manage your account after you die. Your executor can then decide whether to leave your account active, delete it, or memorialise it – which can stop it showing up in feeds in insensitive ways.
“The danger is if you don’t do anything, it can impact on the algorithm in an upsetting or unsettling kind of way,” van der Nagel says. “You can get them turning up as people you may know, or nudged about a happy memory that happened a year ago.”
Another way to manage a digital legacy is to create a secure document (either a physical sealed item, a hard drive, or a password-protected cloud drive) that has your accounts, usernames and passwords. Though, van der Nagel warns, you should take all the necessary privacy precautions and only give it to people you trust.
“It’s really important that people are aware that these services exist,” she says. “There are steps you can take before it happens, you don’t want to have to deal with this suddenly and unexpectedly while you are grieving.”
What about email?
“It depends on which platform, but there are ways people can access the accounts of a deceased person,” van der Nagel says. “With Microsoft, which runs Outlook, you can request access to some information in that account and close it. There is an email address set up specifically for that – the Microsoft custodian of records.”
Van der Nagel says that this is similar to letting banks or billing companies know that a person has died, and usually relies on showing a company a death certificate.
But, due to privacy concerns, she says people should be aware they may not gain full access to an account.
“Through email, you can turn off some services, and gain some information. For example if your mother has died you can turn off some services … but you can’t necessarily read every email that she sent.”
Is there a one-stop-shop to set up a ‘digital will’ yourself?
Van der Nagael says that in Victoria, a person can create a digital register through the state trustee.
This is quite an involved process that goes alongside the legal making of a will, but if done right, you can include all your account logins and information.
“You can create a digital register, it doesn’t go in your will, it goes alongside your will. You can basically give all the keys to your lawyer. Now that would be a really daunting option for someone to set up in their 20s, who does not yet own property. In that case, maybe it would be the most practical option to save it in a hard drive and give it to your dad.”
What legal rights do I have? Can these tech companies still use my photos, tweets and more after I die?
The answer is, broadly, yes.
Van der Nagel says that most terms of service for these social media accounts set up licences and rights between an individual person (ie you) and the companies.
For example, it is very possible that a video that you make and put on Youtube does not necessarily go to your family after your death.
“This is more complicated that simply owning a photograph or owning a CD,” she says. “Physical property you are legally allowed to bequeath. Digital property is not that easy in some cases.”
And sites like Instagram usually reserve the right to use your photos to advertise the platform – and this could technically continue after you die.
Can you ask sites to delete accounts or take them down?
“You can in some cases,” van der Nagel says. “It is always easier to do when you have a death certificate. It is an important legal document.
“On Google there is an inactive account manager, so you can set up and add trusted contacts who can go in and shut down your account. For Microsoft you can contact the Microsoft custodian of records.
“Usually you can show the death certificate, show yourself as the executor and put into place the processes they have put in place. This will usually mean shutting down the account rather than gaining access to the account.
But she adds: “It is much easier with Facebook to memorialise accounts than to delete them.
“It is not hard to say that Facebook still wants your data after you are dead. These platforms don’t want to let go of somebody’s account and all the info they have given the platform”.
Printer ink continues to rank as one of the most expensive liquids around with a litre of the home office essential costing the same as a very high-end bottle of bubbly or an oak-aged Cognac.
Consumer advocate Which? has found that ink bought from printer manufactures can be up to 286 per cent more expensive than third-party alternatives.
Dipping its nib in one inkwell before delicately wiping off the excess on some blotting paper, Which? found that a multipack of colour ink (cyan, magenta, yellow) for the WorkForce WF-7210DTW printer costs £75.49 from Epson.
“This works out at an astonishing £2,410 a litre – or £1,369 for a pint,” said Which?.
The consumer outfit also reported that since the Epson printer also requires a separate Epson black cartridge for £31.99, it takes the combined cost of replacement inks for the Workforce printer to a wallet-busting £107.98.
On the other hand, if people ditched the brand and opted for a full set of black and colour inks from a reputable third-party supplier, it would cost just £10.99 – less than a tenth of the price.
Printing has become essential for plenty of workers holed up at home during the pandemic. The survey by Which? of 10,000 consumers found 54 per cent use their printer at least once a week. Which? said it estimates an inkjet cartridge would need to be replaced three times a year.
The report discovered tactics used by the big vendors to promote the use of “approved”, “original”, and “guaranteed” ink supplies.
It found Epson devices, for example, flagging up a “non-genuine ink detected” message on its LCD screen when using a non-Epson cartridge, and HP printers are actively blocking customers from using non-HP supplies.
Adam French, a consumer rights champion at Which?, reckons this situation is simply unacceptable.
“Printer ink shouldn’t cost more than a bottle of high-end Champagne or Chanel No. 5,” said French. “We’ve found that there are lots of third-party products that are outperforming their branded counterparts at a fraction of the cost.”
In a rallying call to consumers he said that third-party ink should be a personal choice and not “dictated by the make of your printer.”
“Which? will continue to make consumers aware of the staggering cost differences between own-brand and third-party inks and give people the information they need to buy the best ink for their printer,” he said.
The survey by Which? found that 16 third party brands beat the big brands in terms of ink prices.
Epson wasn’t the only printer biz to be singled out for sky-high ink prices. Canon, and HP were fingered too.
For its part, Epson said customers “should be offered choice… to meet their printing needs” and listed a number of options including its EcoTank systems and a monthly Ink Subscription service.
And in a nod to anyone looking to save money by using a third party, Epson said: “Finally, as non-genuine inks are not designed or tested by Epson we cannot guarantee that these inks will not damage the printer. Whilst Epson does not prevent the use of non-Epson inks, we believe that it is reasonable, indeed responsible, that a warning is displayed as any damage caused by the use of the inks may invalidate the warranty.”
HP has tried to battle against third party ink makers trying to capture supplies sales by overhauling the model of its printer business: by shifting to ink tanks printers that come pre-loaded with supplies for an estimated timeframe; or by selling the printer hardware for more upfront and allowing biz customers or consumers to buy the supplies they want.
In response to Which?, HP said it “offers quality, sustainable and secure print supplies with a range of options for customers to choose from, including HP Instant Ink – a convenient printing subscription service with over 9 million users that can save UK customers up to 70 per cent on ink costs, with ink plans starting at £0.99 per month.”
Reg readers may remember the kerfuffle around HP’s Instant Ink. The free plan was reinstated, sort of. For existing customers.
Over at Canon, a spokesperson said third-party ink products can work with its printers, but the “technology inside is designed to function correctly with our genuine inks which are formulated specifically to work with Canon technology.”
“Customers are encouraged to use genuine inks to ensure the longevity of their printer, and also to ensure that their final prints are of a standard we deem Canon quality. In addition, the use of third party inks invalidates the warranty of the printer.”
With almost four in ten (39 per cent) people saying that they do not use third-party cartridges because of fears that they might not work with their printer, it might go some way to explain why more than half (56 per cent) of the consumers quizzed said they persist with using potentially pricey original-branded cartridges despite cheaper alternatives being available. ®
The project adds to the 74 people already employed at the Artesyn Biosolutions facility acquired by Repligen in 2020.
Repligen Corporation is undertaking an expansion of its Waterford site which will see 130 new jobs created, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, has announced.
The life sciences company is building a new 3,000 sq m facility which will be a centre of excellence for single-use consumable products used in bioprocessing applications. The site currently hosts a 1,000 sq m facility employing 74 people, which was established by Ireland’s Artesyn Biosolutions before that company was acquired by Repligen last November.
Repligen Corporation is a multinational that produces bioprocessing products for use in the pharmaceutical manufacturing process. Headquartered in Massachusetts, the company has sites across the United States and in Estonia, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as here in Ireland.
According to the company, the new building will be certified silver on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system from the US Green Building Council. The consumable products manufactured there will be used in filtration and chromatography systems during the production of vaccines and other biopharmaceutical products.
Commenting on the announcement, Varadkar said: “This is excellent news from Repligen with the creation of 130 new jobs in Waterford. It comes on foot of a major jobs announcement by Bausch and Lomb. Waterford is on the move as a centre for jobs and investment.
“I wish the team the very best with their expansion plans.”
James Bylund, senior vice-president at Repligen, added: “We are thrilled to continue the collaboration with the Irish Government and the IDA that was initiated by the Artesyn team. This build-out is an important step in expanding our capacity and establishing dual manufacturing sites for key single-use consumable products used in manufacture of biological drugs.
“With its LEED Silver designation, the facility is closely aligned with our commitment to responsible growth and sustainability.”
Dr Jonathan Downey, managing director at the Waterford facility, said: “Having delivered beyond our commitment in 2019 to bring new jobs to the region through our development of high-end manufacturing capabilities, we are energised and excited about our integration with Repligen and this next phase of growth.
“In addition to our expansion of Artesyn products, and the transfer of manufacturing of certain of Repligen’s current products to our Irish operations, we expect to be utilising the Irish sites to advance additional research, development and innovation programs.”
Emmanuel Macron has reportedly spoken to the Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, to ensure that the Israeli government is “properly investigating” allegations that the French president could have been targeted with Israeli-made spyware by Morocco’s security services.
In a phone call, Macron expressed concern that his phone and those of most of his cabinet could have been infected with Pegasus, hacking software developed by the Israeli surveillance firm NSO Group, which enables operators of the tool to extract messages, photos and emails, record calls and secretly activate microphones from infected devices.
NSO has said Macron was not a “target” of any of its customers, meaning the company denies he was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. The company says that the fact that a number appeared on the list was in no way indicative of whether that number was selected for surveillance using Pegasus.
The Pegasus project could not examine the mobile phones of the leaders and diplomats, and could therefore not confirm whether there had been any attempt to install malware on their phones.
The Macron-Bennett phone call reportedly took place on Thursday, but was first reported by Israel’s Channel 12 News on Saturday evening after the end of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
The prime minister’s office has declined to comment on the phone call or the two leaders’ conversation. According to Channel 12, an unnamed source said Bennett had stressed that the alleged events occurred before he took office in May, and that a commission was examining whether rules on Israel’s export of cyberweapons such as Pegasus should be tightened.
The investigation has been based on forensic analysis of phones and analysis of a leaked database of 50,000 numbers, including that of Macron and those of heads of state and senior government, diplomatic and military officials, in 34 countries.
In multiple statements, NSO said the fact a number appeared on the leaked list was in no way indicative of whether it was selected for surveillance using Pegasus. “The list is not a list of Pegasus targets or potential targets,” the company said. “The numbers in the list are not related to NSO Group in any way.”
But the list is believed to provide insights into those identified as persons of interest by NSO’s clients. It includes people whose phones showed traces of NSO’s signature phone-hacking spyware, Pegasus, according to forensic analysis of their devices. The analysis was conducted by Amnesty International’s security lab, which discovered traces of Pegasus-related activity on 37 out of 67 phones that it analysed.
While the rest of the world grapples with the seismic consequences of the revelations, in Israel reaction has been muted. Meretz, a leftwing party long in opposition but now part of the new government coalition, has asked the defence ministry for “clarification” on the issue, but no party is seeking a freeze of export licences or an inquiry into NSO’s close links to the Israeli state under the tenure of the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But as the mammoth impact of the disclosures has become clearer, the diplomatic pressure on Israel is mounting. On Thursday, the senior Israeli MP Ram Ben-Barak – a former deputy head of the Mossad spy agency – confirmed that the Israeli defence establishment had “appointed a review commission made up of a number of groups” to examine whether policy changes were needed regarding sensitive cyber exports.
US defence officials have also asked their Israeli counterparts for more details on the “disturbing” disclosures stemming from the Pegasus project, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Saturday.