Where does my digital footprint go when I die?

My account on Youtube has been suspended suddenly because of a term of use violation.

I’m really not sure what I’ve done.

I got into trouble with Youtube a couple of years ago because I uploaded clips of songs from a Jean-Michel Jarre concert. The funny thing was that JMJ’s record company was deleting the clips off Youtube as JMJ himself was writing on his website that he loves to see his music shared using online forums. That never killed my entire account though – just the clips that were disputed. And even then, I can still view the clips privately when logged into my own account, it’s just that they can’t be broadcast to the wider online community.

But this is different.

Without any contact, I’ve suddenly lost access to my Youtube account. And while that might sound trivial to some, my account has over 900 of my personal videos since 2006. I don’t keep copies of that stuff. It’s filed away there on Youtube. So what happens to all my digital content now? Have they deleted it or just blocked access to my account?

I sincerely hope that this is a mistake and they will renew my access tomorrow. Perhaps an artist has complained about something I’ve uploaded, but my concern is that if that were really the case then why am I not receiving information about *why* I am locked out and *what* the complaint is about? How can I have violated the terms of use agreement when nobody at Youtube is informing me what I have done?

And there is a wider issue regarding the digital footprint of an individual. If those videos, and my blogs, and my photos on Flickr, and my tweet record on Twitter are all owned by those companies then what do I do if they withdraw the service without notice. That could mean all my personal photographs are suddenly lost. It would never happen if I had them stored in a shoe-box.

And what happens when I die? Is it possible to “inherit” a Flickr account so the thousands of pictures I have taken over many years are not lost… through some automated account clearance because it has not been logged into for a period of time.

Is anyone addressing these issues of digital ownership? And by the way, to the guys at Youtube… please get in touch. I’m not sure what button I have pushed to upset you, but how about letting me have my videos back thanks?

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One response to “Where does my digital footprint go when I die?

  1. Pingback: Another reason not to trust Google and GMAIL | g7uk

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