Uppity-Negro.com is now TypeKey-Enabled!
And it only took... a while.
Anyway, I didn't know the story had been printed and posted online, but over a month ago, I spoke with John Boudreau of the San Jose Mercury News, via e-mail and telephone, and our lengthy, detailed conversations resulted in--two small paragraphs toward the end of the story?!? What-ever!
Seriously, though, the story spoke to this new digital information age, where so much of your life is "lived" online, and what happens to all that information after you die--? Should you name a kind of "virtual executor" to be caretaker of your blogs and web sites? And then what about any of your other accounts, including financial records and e-mail mailboxes; if the worst happens, is there a way your survivors could access these accounts, if desired or necessary? Naturally, this is an issue that was brought up in the case of the November 13, 2004 death of Lance Cpl. Justin Ellsworth in Iraq, and his surviving family's rebuffed initial attempts to access Ellsworth's Yahoo! e-mail account, later resolved in the family's favor in court:
John Ellsworth's attorney, Brian Dailey, said Yahoo acted appropriately in handling Ellsworth's request for his son's e-mail. "Their policy tracked the law completely," he said. "If they had released the e-mails before the court order, they could have gotten into trouble."
While the process may be cumbersome for families, it's the best way to safeguard against abuses, said Brian Smith, chief technology officer of Hushmail.com, a British Columbia-based Internet service provider that offers encrypted e-mail.
"If you start allowing exceptions, security could be compromised," he said. "The easiest way to hack a system is through social engineering -- you get on the phone and you lie until someone believes you."
Smith's company will not release information to third parties unless they have a legal order issued by a British Columbia court.
Still, sometimes family members can circumvent such procedures if they know the deceased's passwords or can guess them.
That's what Valerie Hawkins of Chicago did. Her brother, Aaron Hawkins, died in September. She was able to access his e-mail accounts by figuring out the answers to his "forgot password" hints. She and her family also decided to keep his blog up and running.
She reviewed his financial dealings, but deliberately avoided personal e-mail. "It was important to just get a handle on his accounts to see what it was he had so we knew whom we had to contact," she said.
Obtaining the digital property can be more than an act of financial housekeeping. In some cases, a Web address might even have trademark or some other financial value, said estate lawyer Litherland.
But, he added, "for most of us, passing away will mean our digital existence passes away, too."
The story was picked up and has appeared in various newspapers all over the country... but doesn't look to have appeared in any newspaper here in Chicago! That wacky Chi-town media!
Take care of yourselves and each other.