Designing for new digital rightsRIGHTSContents

Guardian for digital identity

The law is clear about what happens to our belongings when we die, but much vaguer when it comes to our digital property. Some companies have started to think about this, but there’s very little public oversight.

We imagined how a digital public guardian could help. When you die, could their services delete your private messages from Facebook before transferring your account to someone you trust?

The GDPR states that people will have the right to rectify data, but that could imply quite narrow changes (like changing your address when you move). Organisations need to prepare for more extreme changes of circumstance.

Inspired by Tom Steinberg’s ‘Digital Graveyards’.

143 Sarto Lane,

Shepherds Bush,

W12 5JE,


26 October 2016

James Reeves

Your ref AERT98645383

On event of my death, I James Reeves (the undersigned), wish to transfer access to my digital identities (accounts listed below).

The transfer of these accounts should take place using the protocols established by the Office of the Digital Public Guardian.

Please transfer the following accounts

  • Twitter

  • Instagram

  • Pinterest

  • Government Gateway

  • Digidentity

Transfer the following accounts after deleting private messages

  • Facebook

Place the following accounts in archive mode

  • imgur

Delete the following accounts, with no records kept

  • Tinder



  • Spotify

  • Pornhub

  • Experian

The full details of transfer will be completed through the Office of the Digital Public Guardian upon verification of my death.


James Reeves

Signed 20 October 2016