Apple Demanded Court Order from Widow to Recover Late Husband’s Password
Apple’s focus on privacy is good but can sometimes carry unfortunate consequences. 72-year-old Peggy Bush tried to download a game to her iPad, but didn’t know her late husband’s Apple ID password. Her daughter dealt with Apple support for two months, providing serial numbers and legal documentation before being told that Apple required a court order to resolve the situation. In fact, according to Apple’s terms and conditions, accounts are not transferrable upon death and Apple may even terminate the account. Fortunately, Apple gave Bush access to the account after she reached out to CBC News and Apple CEO Tim Cook. This story illustrates why it’s important for families to have a plan for sharing key passwords, such as 1Password for Teams or at least a copy of 1Password’s master password in a safe-deposit box.
Boo hoo. In our digital age, folks need to include such things when they are "getting their affairs in order". Whining to the media after the fact is not the answer. I could just hear the words from Dr. Bones, "He dead Jim, now get your own account."
LastPass's new emergency access feature is also helpful in cases like this, but I will echo the sentiment: when my dad died, it was so helpful that I knew his passwords as I worked to close out his estate.
I like to think my privacy does not just expire when I die. If I want a beneficiary to inherit something I would make arrangements, but if I never make such preparations I'm glad to know that Apple will not hand over my private emails, pictures, and other documents to somebody just because they happen to be the next of kin and I happen to have died.
That said, all this fuss just for a game? Jee whiz. Her daughter could have just helped her download a brand new copy. What would that have cost and how long would that have taken? But no, let's get the media involved and try to make a big legal deal out of it.
Simon, when I first read about this, I was sympathetic to the widow. (And I still am overall, of course.) But, you make a good point. A person might have games or ebooks or other purchases in their account that were meant to be private, and post-death, Apple has no way to determine this.
Further, although it's no guarantee, if the husband's iTunes Store credentials were also his credentials for other accounts, it is possible that the wife could then have access to email or other documents that were never meant to be shared.
Of course, most of the time, most likely, giving the wife access is a kind and helpful thing to do, but Apple really has no way to know.
So, as individuals, we do need to share those passwords that ought to be shared with our loved ones. I think the onus has to be on us.