Digital assets. It’s a term you’re going to be hearing more and more of as our world morphs into a cyber society. And though the term may sound like technical mumbo-jumbo to many, the case of a Canadian widow featured on the January 19 edition of Eyewitness News ABC7 illustrates why you need to know.
What is a digital asset? Marketing tech firm Widen defines the term. “A digital asset is any form of content and/or media that have been formatted into a binary source which include the right to use it.” The key term in that definition is “the right to use it.”
Widen further goes on to state types of digital assets. These include, but are not limited to, “product images, lifestyle photography, logos, illustrations, animations, audio & video clips, presentations, page files (Quark or InDesign), office documents and spreadsheets, CAD files, and a number of other digital file formats and their metadata.”
So why should this matter to baby boomers? Because the oldest of us are starting to leave this world as attested to by the recent deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey, among others. And because passwords matter. Put the two together and you get the scenario mentioned in the ABC article.
Canadian widow Peggy Bush, grieving the death of her husband, wanted to play the card game on their iPad. The game had stopped working. She needed his password.
Not thinking this would be a problem, Peggy’s daughter, Donna Bush, called Apple and asked for help. As requested, Donna sent Apple the serial numbers, a copy of her father’s will, and a notarized death certificate. She then waited for an answer. She got one.
The answer was, “You need a court order.” Donna felt this was ridiculous. All she was trying to do was get a game for her mom to play on the iPad. Why should she have to go to court? Donna contacted a Canadian news agency who, in turn, contacted Apple.
Once that happened, Apple replied that there had been a simple misunderstanding and offered their help with no court order needed. Peggy Bush got access to the iPad and all’s well that ends well, right?
Although this is a simple case about a game, privacy requirements for digital media are far from simple. What if you don’t know the passwords for devices that contain sensitive information in an emergency? Many people don’t even think about this. When you can’t access financial or other sensitive information, that card game on Peggy Bush’s iPad becomes a lot more important.
So what can you do to avoid this problem? Make sure your spouse or significant other has your passwords for all digital information, especially financial. If you don’t want to do that, some experts say you should make sure they know where to find them. Others feel you should include this information in your will, telling where to find your passwords but not the actual passwords.
Whichever method you choose, dealing with it before it becomes an emergency will save your loved ones an additional burden. No one in the throes of grief should have to go to court to play a game or balance a checkbook.