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Survey: Ten percent of Brits include Internet passwords in will

Ten percent of Brits now leave password information in their will to sites such as Facebook and Flickr, according to a survey by Goldsmiths at the University of London.

And with the cloud expected to become the storage place of choice in the future, instead of the hard drive at home, it seems that the bequeathment of passwords could one day become as common as the bequeathment of whatever pennies are left rattling around in the piggy bank.

The survey, titled Generation Cloud, was conducted on behalf of cloud computing company Rackspace and questioned 2,000 UK adults. It discovered that Brits have collectively somewhere in the region of $3.6 billion worth of personal videos, music, books and photos stored in the cloud.

It is these digital treasures, as well as passwords to sites such as Facebook, Flickr and web-based email services that some Brits want to pass on to loved ones when they die.

There is, of course, a concern that passwords could fall into the wrong hands. Speaking to Sky News, a Rackspace spokesperson said, “The client makes the will and leaves it with the solicitor. Then the passwords are kept separately. So, once the details of the will are sorted out, the beneficiaries will be given the password(s) they need.”

Solicitor Matthew Strain told Sky that as the cloud becomes more popular for storing digital information, the question as to what happens to it all will become more of an issue over time.

“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,” Strain said. “Making provisions for digital inheritance in a will or codicil is relatively straightforward.”

It’s understandable that someone might want to pass on access to videos, music and books to a loved one, but what benefit can be had from giving a password to a site like Facebook isn’t so clear – unless it’s to post a message about the person’s demise, perhaps.

The survey’s results come in a week when Apple launched its new iCloud service, although according to some reports it hasn’t gone too smoothly.

[Image courtesy of Yellowj / Shutterstock]

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