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Password Tontine

A solution to post-mortem password loss
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(+5, -1)
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While perusing a web forum, I came across a lengthy discussion of how to prepare one's various online identities for the user's death. Various suggestions, including a system where the credentials are released following several failures to check-in, and systems to actually detect the user's death were proposed. All these systems, though, would have problems with false positives and negatives, as a result of a limited scope of investigation.

A tontine is a form of life insurance, where a group of people pay in, and the income is split among the surviving members, with the last survivor taking the entire pool.

The concept can also be applied to a valuable object, as is often seen in fiction, where an item, such as a bottle of valuable wine or cache of paintings is stored and inherited by the last survivor.

The "Password Tontine" is a form of this, where a group of people submit their online credentials to be released by the last survivor. It could be implemented as an informal agreement among a small circle, or more formally where the information would be stored by a third-party such as a lawyer or a bank.

Alx_xlA, Sep 25 2010

Poutine http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poutine
Here it is. Now I am getting all drooly. [bungston, Oct 01 2010]


       A tontine is named after its C17th inventor, an Italian whose surname was Tonti, as I recall.   

       I've often wondered why Tontine is also the brand name for a range of pillows and bedding products in some parts of the world. Possibly because the company was founded under a tontine structure in the 1800s? I don't know but it would be interesting to find out.
infidel, Sep 25 2010

       Silly [infidel], everyone knows that tontines were invented by the French. Just like everything else.
kaz, Sep 27 2010

       Tonti was living in France at the time, so you have a point.
infidel, Sep 27 2010

       What's the point of a tontine? Surely the dead would want the information released right away, instead of waiting until all but one person dies. I see no benefit over a simple will held in escrow.
Aq_Bi, Sep 29 2010

       I thought a tontine was that Canadian dish involving french fries and a lot of gravy. Also cheese?
bungston, Sep 29 2010

       [bungston] So-named because of the Canadian custom of gathering weekly in small groups, to enjoy a tontine dinner. Strokes, heart attacks, and other complications of atherosclerosis quickly reduce each group to (however briefly) a single survivor.   

       I still don't understand the "why" of this idea.
mouseposture, Sep 29 2010

       No I don't see how this helps either.   

       Also, what happens if all members of the tontine die simultaneously? (Or at least in rapid enough succession for it to be impractical to prove who was the final survivor) Say if a bomb went off, or a crazed gunman stormed the building?
zen_tom, Sep 30 2010

       That's where the Pillows come in! To stop the shrapnel/bullets. I've always wondered about that...
infidel, Sep 30 2010

       //Also, what happens if all members of the tontine die simultaneously// The way you handle that in a will is to specify a notional temporal ordering of deaths to be used in the case where the deaths are simultaneous. I assume it's done the same way with a tontine.
mouseposture, Oct 01 2010

       // No I don't see how this helps either. //   

       Mostly this came about because the discussion was largely about maintaining security. In a mutually- trusted group (I'm imagining that it would be done so that all the IDs would be released together, without being separable), no one benefits by cheating the group. Also, I like the romanticism of it.
Alx_xlA, Oct 01 2010


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