Web users seeking to protect embarrassing 'online legacies' after death through 'digital wills'
People concerned about what will remain on the Internet after they die are compiling 'digital wills' to help erase any embarrassing online legacies.
Increasing number of Britons are leaving their passwords, login details, passwords and detailed instructions to digital executors who then use that personal information to tidy up web-based information.
By accessing the information from a secure server, an executor can erase secret email folders, close subscriptions to gambling or pornography websites or remove photographs from Facebook pages, the telegraph reports.
The 'digital wills' keep passwords in a secret location, but can allow paying clients to update them.
When they die, a named guardian can access the information when a death certificate is presented.
Figures show the average person now has 26 Internet accounts for a range of services, including email, banking online shopping, social media sites, Skype and PayPal.
Cirrus Legacy, one of Britain's first digital legacy companies, has more than 500 clients after being founded earlier this year.
"The idea was spawned because most of my life is organised online and I have got so many accounts," Paul Golding, its co-founder said.
"This service is a series of signposts that lets people know that you have these accounts and how to access them. I have bank accounts that are entirely online," Golding said.
"We're moving away from the traditional filing cabinet in the house to dedicated servers where we can store our important documents," he added.
"Some people have even chosen to upload scans of critical documents such as passport and insurance documents or house deeds," he said.
According to the report, Golding and his brother Mark, founded the company after being left "surprised and dismayed by the complications that arose after the death of their beloved Auntie Sue".
A recent study by Goldsmiths, University of London, showed more than one in 10 people had made provisions to pass on Internet passwords after their deaths or had planned to do so, the report said.
One aspect that cannot be legally transferred after death, is digital music and e-book collections, which are licensed for individual use and cannot be bequeathed, it added.