IN a digital world your deepest secrets no longer die with you.
REMEMBER that time you poured your heart out in an email to your best friend after one too many glasses of wine?
Or that sexy message from an old lover that made you blush at work?
Well, if you die, your family and others could end up reading them.
Web email services owned by internet giants Google and Microsoft have a policy of keeping your data after you die and letting your next of kin or the executor of your estate access it.
Accounts with Google's Gmail can hold up to 7GB – or roughly 70,000 emails with a small to medium picture attached to each.
And they archive the messages you've written as well as received.
When it comes to deleting the data, Microsoft's Hotmail will remove an account if it is inactive for 270 days, while Gmail leaves the responsibility to the next of kin.
Of the top three providers, only Yahoo! refuses to supply emails to anyone after a user has died. The user's next of kin can ask for the account to be closed, but cannot gain access to it.
A Yahoo! spokesperson said the only exception to this rule would be if the user specified otherwise in their will.
The subject has also proved problematic for social networking sites Facebook and MySpace.
Facebook has recently publicised a feature called memorialisation that lets the family of deceased users keep their profile page online as a virtual tribute.