Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Having A Blogger Blog Removed Or Restored, After Death Of The Blog Owner - The Next Chapter

The question of disposition of blogs, left behind by deceased blog owners, comes up in Blogger Help Forum: How Do I?, from time to time.

As Blogger blogs - and similar Google products - become mature, and as more people who publish Blogger blogs become susceptible to old age and death, this problem will become more critical. As recently as 2010, in order to assume control (or request deletion) of such a blog, Blogger required only a faxed copy of the death certificate.

We are now seeing that the death certificate is only one part of a formal procedure, which Blogger / Google now uses, in the dual role of
  • Compassion, in allowing a friend or loved one to appropriately assume control of blogs left behind.
  • Due Diligence, in preventing fraudulent claims by people who have no legal or moral right to assume control of blogs.
Both roles are righteous, and are needed to help Google reduce hijacking of active Blogger blogs.

As part of an improved procedure for disposition of Blogger blogs left behind by deceased owners, Blogger now uses GMail Help: Accessing a deceased person's mail as guidelines. The new guidelines
  1. Use a two part process - a preliminary review, followed by a formal court documented process.
  2. Include a dedicated facsimile transmission / postal mail address.
  3. Include additional requirements, which formally identify the relationship of the person requesting control of the blog in question, to the deceased.

The preliminary review specifies a facsimile transmission / postal mail address:
Google Inc.
Gmail User Support - Decedents’ Accounts
c/o Google Custodian of Records
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
Fax: 650-644-0358
and a formal list of material required, for Part 1 - preliminary review.
  1. Your full name.
  2. Your physical mailing address.
  3. Your email address.
  4. A photocopy of your government-issued ID or driver’s license.
  5. The Gmail address of the deceased user.
  6. The death certificate of the deceased user. If the document is not in English, please provide a certified English translation prepared by a competent translator and notarized.
  7. The following information from an email message that you have received at your email address, from the Gmail address in question:
    • The full header from the email message. See instructions on how to find headers in Gmail and other webmail email providers. Copy everything from 'Delivered-To:' through the 'References:' line
    • The entire content of the message
When specified by Blogger Support, we were instructed to substitute the blog URL, for the Gmail address (as #5). No addendum referencing the email message (as #7) was provided.

The instructions for Part 2 are not as well defined, as for Part 1.
Part 2 will require you to get additional legal process including an order from a U.S. court and/or submitting additional materials. Please note that submitting these materials will not guarantee that we will be able to provide Gmail content so we recommend not embarking on Part 2 until you hear back from us regarding Part 1.

These requirements may seem onerous to the less observant. Actually, by formalising the process, this should reduce the number of fraudulent claims, and make it easier for Google personnel to legitimately process claims, while exercising both compassion and due diligence.

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