Google adds a "dead-man's switch" -- uses cases from torture-resistance to digital wills

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21 Responses to “Google adds a "dead-man's switch" -- uses cases from torture-resistance to digital wills”

  1. I wonder if Google will use this feature to delete itself when it invariably decides to kill this feature.

  2. txhoudini says:

    You cannot “set your dead-man’s switch to a couple hours”. The service has presets for 3, 6, 9, or 12 months. Not as much fun.

  3. anon0mouse says:

    “Hello. If you’re getting this email, it means my account is now inactive. Tell my children I love them.”

  4. ocschwar says:

    All I want out of AI for the next 30/40 years is enough smarts that I can leave a crontab behind that will keep my GMail account alive a little longer, and do enough natural language processing and scripting in the semantic web to allow me to make sure my Facebook acount “may” be attending my funeral. 

  5. raines says:

     with a bit of bash and regex, your dream can come true today

    Isn’t that true of all dreams?

    • dragonfrog says:

      Some people, when confronted with a problem, think “I know, I’ll use regular expressions.” Now they have two problems.

      - JWZ

  6. The Comedian says:

    How about a feature where you supply an emergency password and it activates immediately?

    Oppressive regime tortures a password out of you and upon its first use  — poof!

  7. oasisob1 says:

    I’m not sure that I would actually trust Google to really wipe everything under any condition that I state. FaceBook, either. I’m sure that even if they had a 2-hour window, they’d only wipe it as far as I could tell. Law Enforcement/Government would still be able to get it, I bet.

    • Boundegar says:

      Okay, so your torturers can get your stuff, but your ex-girlfriend can’t. Seems fair to me.

    • Zhou Fang says:

       What’s in it for them if they do that though?

      I tend to assume Google follows ‘don’t be unprofitable’ in its business dealings. Storing deleted data that could be later subpoena’ed opens them up for possible court cases and doesn’t bring in any money.

  8. oasisob1 says:

    Oh, pro comment on the announcement page:
    “downtown said…
    I dont’t care about leaving my +1′s. We should be able to leave to someone the books, music and apps we bought! Funny how I could share useless things like feeds on Reader (since Reader itself needs a will by now)”

  9. Side Unes says:

    I wonder how long this program will last until Google kills it

  10. BarBarSeven says:

    This seems like some ego vanity tool. It’s like some Sharper Image catalog “You know you are important &
    that is why we created this piece of B.S. for you… AND JUST YOU!”

    I mean, I am sure there are folks out there who would genuinely like their accounts deleted if something happens, but they seem to be in the same camp as people who would already know  how to do this to begin with. Most people won’t care or won’t be affected.

  11. raines says:

    It turns out  (while following a link on another BB post today) that SMBC covered this (in part): http://www.smbc-comics.com/?db=comics&id=2610#comic

  12. Cowicide says:

    preventing your secrets from being tortured out of you

    They’ll clamp your genitals while a laptop is in front of you.  Then they’ll demand your Google credentials to turn the switch off.  All this while your grandmother is hanging from the rafters with alligators snapping beneath her feet.

    You’ll let them turn off the switch.

  13. Daemonworks says:

    Law of Unintended Consequences for the “squawk” version…

    Great for “insurance” of the “if anything happens to me, your secrets will be mailed to every newspaper and tv station in the world!” or, with a bit more technical knowledge “if anything happens to me, the bombs will go off!” varieties.

  14. Enemy Mouse says:

    IAM. Or WAS as the case may be…

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