A new survey held by Goldsmiths at the University of London has found that one in 10 people in the UK are leaving their passwords in their will.
The study was carried out on behalf of cloud computing company Rackspace, and found that more than 25% of people in the UK have hundreds of pounds worth of music and films online that they would like their loved ones to receive after they are gone.
It also found that people are leaving Facebook and Flickr passwords so their personal data is protected and can be archived, rather than fall prey to spammers.
During the last couple of years, there have been many cases of people hijacking Facebook accounts of those that had passed away and had no way to control their digital identity.
Some Facebook accounts that cannot be accessed by loved ones become digital shrines, although are easy targets for hacking.
The survey found that growing numbers of people now want their identities online to be controlled after they have gone. They also want families to have access to personal photos and videos which are now becoming more common as a replacement to the physical photo albums at home.
Solicitor Matthew Strain told Sky News: "With more photos, books, music and so on being stored online and in digital format, the question of what happens to these when people are gone becomes more important every day.
"We have started to advise clients on the topic of digital inheritance as it is something people should be thinking, and doing something about as part of the provisions in their will.”
"Making provisions for digital inheritance in a will or codicil is relatively straightforward.”
The European Union is currently working on enshrining a ‘right to be forgotten online’.
Viviane Reding, the EU justice commissioner, who is proposing the law, said earlier this year: "I want to explicitly clarify that people shall have the right – and not only the possibility – to withdraw their consent to data processing.”
"The burden of proof should be on data controllers – those who process your personal data. They must prove that they need to keep the data, rather than individuals having to prove that collecting their data is not necessary.”
By Ben Malkin
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