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I was invited to speak at the Knesset again in July 2017

On July 4th 2017 I was invited to speak (again) at the Knesset, in a discussion held by the Science and Technology Committee regarding digital legacy and estate. 

I prepared several documents to be distributed among the attendees. One of them was mostly in English, so I'm sharing it with you here (as well as in the Hebrew version of the blog) as I think it could be of use to my readers. Current international Digital Death legislation:   

Thank you 
To Jim Lamm of Digital Passing for reviewing the USA list. 


The call for papers for DORS4 is out

The 4th Death Online Research Symposium (DORS) will take place in England in August 2018. 

The call for paper is out, you'll find all the information you need in this link

You can read about DORS 3, which took place in Denmark in 2017, here, about DORS 2, which took place in England in 2015, here, and about DORS 1, which took place in England in 2014, here

I took these pics in DORS 1 in Durham, UK, knowing they would come in handy at a later point. 
Thank you, Nimrod Benzoor, for turning them into images I could use. 


My TEDx Talk is now Available with English Subtitles

Due to popular demand, my TEDx talk: "What Happens To Our Digital Remains When We Die?" is now available with English subtitles:

It can be found on the TEDx YouTube channel here (more than 21,500 views there and counting).

Other related links can be found here, or in the menu to your left: 


Participation in an Important Study, Regarding Digital Memories


Have you lost a loved one who has left digital traces of their life?

The Digital Memories Study is a UK research study exploring the experience of being bereaved of a person who has left behind digital traces, and is now seeking participants.
These days we live so much of our lives online and using devices. As we post, chat, like, mail, tweet and surf, we leave traces of ourselves in digital spaces. When someone dies, these traces can live on after their death. In the past, when a person died, bereaved people could look back at physical memories of the dead: photographs, letters, and personal effects. In the digital age, bereaved family and friends can also have access to a great range of digital memories: photos, emails, social media accounts and activity, messages, videos etc.
The Digital Memories Study is exploring the experience of being bereaved of a person who has left behind these often vast a varied digital remains of their life.

What do we want to do?

Interview friends & family of people who have died & left behind digital material (interviews in person, via phone or video calling).
Ask participants to keep a study diary (optional)

 Who are we looking for?

Adults (18+) bereaved of a person who has left digital traces of their life.    
The deceased must have been 18+ at time of death
The deceased must have died between 3 months ago & 5 years ago.
Particularly seeking multiple people affected by a death, as well as individuals.

 What are digital traces?

Material left online & on digital devices by, or relating to, the deceased e.g. text messages, emails, social media activity, blog posts, photos, videos, playlists, gaming histories etc.

To take part or ask a question, please contact:
+44 (0)799-905-9011
Or visit:


The Blog and I are on a break

The blog and I are on a break.
I will update if and when we'll be back.
If you tried to get in touch with me and couldn't, I apologize.


A Digital Death Survey in the UK

An anonymous Digital Death Survey is being held these days in the UK by The Digital Legacy Association. I first mentioned them to you in a post in March 2016. 

Please fell free to participate in it and/or share it with others. 

The results will later be available online. 
The results from the 2014 survey can be found here, and the results from the 2015 survey can be found here (data collected in 2015, infographic created in 2016), and here:


The Text of my TEDx Talk

What Happens To Our Digital Remains When We Die?

In 2011 an email from my brother showed up in my inbox. 
It had no subject, and the message contained a single link. 
During the next three weeks several such messages arrived, and I kept feeling frustrated and helpless. 

Those emails arrived in April.
A month earlier, in March, my brother was killed when hit by a car.

Those emails weren’t written by him: his email account was hacked, and his entire contact list received a strain of spam messages, until it was flagged, and shut down.

When I took it upon myself to neatly and respectfully “fold” my brother’s digital life after him* – just like our family was doing with his physical life – I had no idea what I was getting myself into, nor, how difficult it would turn out to be. 
Which is why I started writing about dying in this digital era: since I was introduced to the world of “Digital Death”, I’ve felt a strong need to introduce it to others - without them having to first lose a loved one.

“Digital Death” is a term to denote everything that happens – or doesn’t happen – to our digital data and devices, online accounts and virtual presence after we die. 

Have you ever thought about how many digital accounts you have? The kind you log into with a user name and a password? 
You probably have more “Personal Accounts” than you realize: this term refers to anything we log into online with a user name and a password: all the websites we ever signed up to. 
study from 2015 found that the average user had 90 such accounts, with the number predicted to double every five years. 
Sounds like a lot, right? I know I was surprised when I checked the Password Manager I use: it currently holds my usernames and passwords to 253 online log-ins.
Assuming some are no longer relevant, several are duplicates and a few are just Wi-Fi accesses, that still leaves us with, what? – 150? 200?

Our digital space and devices now practically hold every aspect of our lives: 
From life-long collections of music, movies, books, texts, videos, pictures, memories - through our banking records and the personal or professional documents and records for managing a house-hold or a business - all the way to our metadata. 
Once we are gone, all of this is left behind. 

It’s an unsolved problem, as in most cases we don’t know each other’s passwords – let alone all 90 or 253 of them - nor, what the wishes of the deceased were, as it was never discussed. 

In most cases we don’t know what the after-death policy of the sites we use, is. Even if you are one of those rare people who do read the Terms of Use, in some cases you still won’t be able to know what the after-death policy is, as it’s not published. 
And if you do find out, you might be alarmed to learn this policy is against your wishes – whatever that wish may be – or that the site won’t respect your wish, even if you were to express it*, as transferring a user account or its details might be a violation of the Terms of Use. 

Most countries and states don’t have “Digital Death” regulations or laws yet, or if they do, they’re insufficient: 
For example, the law might address only the deceased’s email accounts, as is the case in Rhode Island, or if it does address ALL of the deceased’s online accounts - it only lets you shut them down, as is the case in Nevada. 
The British law might deem accessing someone else’s account as a criminal offence, and the American law (state or federal) might see it as a crime even if you were appointed by the deceased. 
Further confusion comes with the differences in international law, as well as where you or your accounts are located in relation to the location of the servers. 

The result is that most - if not all - of the dozens or hundreds of accounts each one of us leaves behind* become unreachable. This means not just the colossal digital loss we might experience - which could also lead to real financial loss – but also that these accounts remain out there: existing, floating, uncontrolled. People may continue to use, engage and interact with them - without our consent, knowledge or being able to do anything about it - possibly in ways neither the deceased nor we would want. 

We are used to thinking of wills, legacies, heritage, bequeathing and planning ahead as relevant to older, wealthier people, but Digital Death is relevant to everybody: you don’t have to be rich in order to accumulate a vast digital world, and, in fact, the younger you are, the more online activity you’re likely to have*. 

And digital loss is not just personal. It can be communal, cultural:
For instance: we nearly lost all the manuscripts of 36 year-old Iranian-American, international bestseller author, Marsha Mehran. She was found dead, alone, in Ireland, in 2014, and her father, Abbas, had to fight in order to retrieve her digital manuscripts from their cloud storage provider.

First steps in the right direction were made when two in-house services were launched: Google’s “Inactive Account Manager” in 2013 and Facebook’s “Legacy Contact” in 2015. 
These let you leave certain instructions for your accounts in case of death. 
But Google’s service doesn't let you share access to your accounts, and Facebook’s won’t let you pass access to your account, nor can you choose to not have your profile memorialized.
And I’m guessing most of you don’t know about these services, as both companies choose not to communicate them directly to their users. 

On Facebook, once a person is reported as deceased – which can be reported by anyone, including complete strangers – that profile is "Memorialized”, with no prior warning. From that point onward, it is frozen and can no longer be accessed – even if you do have the right username and password, along with the deceased’s permission.

Google says in Certain Circumstances it may provide content from a deceased user's account.
Which circumstances? They don’t specify.

You might be thinking: "Hey, I’ll be dead! I don't care about some files or devices". You'd be right, of course. You won't care. But the people you love, and those who loved you, might care, for both sentimental and practical reasons. 

You might prefer that your privacy be maintained after your death – sometimes especially from your loved ones. This is legitimate, important and should be respected. 

I want to emphasize: I'm not saying the deceased don't have a right to privacy. 
The thing is that there is no one right answer to suit all, therefore, it should be your decision, and not some company's customer relations' department's. 
You should be given the choice - and the means - to decide the fate of your digital after-life.

I believe it’s time we started educating ourselves about this. 

If you are a psychologist, lawyer, social worker, care giver, hospice staff, you should tell the dying people or bereaved families you’re working with, that there is one more thing they need to be aware of: “Digital Death”. 

If you are in charge of people risking their lives in service: cops, soldiers, fire fighters: I believe they deserve to be told - before they leave their house the next time - that there is one more thing they should be aware of: “Digital Death”. 

If you, as a person, as an individual, are already aware and concerned about Digital Death by this point: 
I wish I could give you a solution. I can’t. 
There is no one solution: it depends on which sites you’re using, what their policies or Terms of Use are, where you live and if there is any relevant legislation there.

But there are a few things you can do:

  1. Think about all the devices and accounts you’re using: Is your computer password protected? Is there an unlock pin code on your Smartphone? Will someone be able to keep using your iPhone or iPad without your Apple ID? Will access or copies be needed of the important documents only you had and were kept in cloud storage, like taxes or mortgage? Should your online videos and pictures still be available? Think about it –– and make a decision.
  2. Whatever your choice is, whether you wish for some or all of your devices and accounts to be accessed or not, share your decision. Tell someone you trust, leave written instructions in a safe place where they could easily be found, sign up to a third-party or an in-house service that manages digital accounts - while remembering that new accounts get opened and passwords get changed - so relevant information needs to be updated regularly.
  3. Push to change current policies and laws. Make sure the voices of individual people and bereaved families are heard too - not just the voices of the lobbyists of the tech industry.

I’m not a businessperson, a salesperson or anyone’s agent. 
I’m someone’s sister.

Picture by Colin Ritchie

This is my brother, Tal Shavit. 

He was 55 and a half years old when killed, on the spot, by a car, driven by a reckless driver, on March 2nd 2011. 

When a loved one dies, there is so much pain, sorrow and hardship we can do nothing about.
Let’s at least do something to spare additional pain, sorrow and hardship, which we can do something about.  

Please introduce this idea to as many people as possible, so they too will be aware of Digital Death - as you are now - without having to lose a loved one first. 

Thank you.


* = What I forgot to say onstage.