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More web users seek to protect 'online legacies' in death

19 November, 2012

People concerned about what remains on the Internet when they die are compiling "digital wills" to help erase any embarrassing online legacies, it emerged today.

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 "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.

One of Britain's first digital legacy companies, Cirrus Legacy 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," co-founder Paul Golding told The Sunday Times.

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