Site passes on fi­nal mes­sages from the dead

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By SUN LI and HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou sunli@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A Web ser­vice that prom­ises to de­liver mes­sages to users’ loved ones af­ter death has raised con­cerns over po­ten­tial le­gal and se­cu­rity prob­lems.

Yizhu. cn al­lows peo­ple to store let­ters, pho­tos and im­por­tant doc­u­ments to be passed on to friends and rel­a­tives af­ter death, lead­ing some peo­ple to call it an “online will”.

Mem­bers must log in on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. If they fail to do so, web­site staff mem­bers will send e-mail re­minders, phone the users, and even con­tact rel­a­tives to check up on them.

Bei­jing Join World Net­work Tech­nol­ogy Co Ltd, which set up the web­site in 2010, charges 99 yuan ($16) a year for the ser­vice.

Li Jia, the com­pany’s CEO, said the idea came to him af­ter a ter­ri­fy­ing plane ride.

“The tur­bu­lence was so strong I was sure we would crash,” he re­called. “Af­ter, I re­al­ized I wouldn’t have had the op­por­tu­nity to say good­bye to my fam­ily or tell them some valu­able in­for­ma­tion, such as the pass­words for my bank ac­counts.”

The web­site has more than 280,000 mem­bers and the num­ber is in­creas­ing by al­most 1,000 a day, ac­cord­ing to Li, who said users are mainly from South­east China, with about 20,000 in Fujian prov­ince. Ages range from 20 to 50, he said.

An IT worker in Fuzhou who did not want to be iden­ti­fied said he signed up be­cause life is full of un­cer­tain­ties.

“I have left my bank ac­count de­tails and other mes­sages I think my loved ones need to know,” he said. “It’s not about be­ing scared, it’s about mak­ing prepa­ra­tions so I won’t have re­grets.”

To many peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly those with a strong be­lief in Chi­nese su­per­sti­tion, the ser­vice is in­aus­pi­cious.

Civil ser­vant Guan Lizhao in Fuzhou said, “Mak­ing a wish and putting it online when I’m still healthy is like I’m get­ting ready to die.

“Plus, I wouldn’t al­low a web­site to han­dle im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion such as my bank ac­count de­tails.”

Yang Chao­jiang, a lawyer in Nan­jing, was also con­cerned about the le­gal­ity. He said online wills are not rec­og­nized by China’s In­her­i­tance Law, and “with­out va­lid­ity for the ser­vice, it may lead to some dis­putes.”

CEO Li in­sisted that se­cu­rity is the No 1 pri­or­ity for his com­pany, ex­plain­ing the web­site is pro­tected by top en­cryp­tion soft­ware.

How­ever, he added the “online will” tag is in­ac­cu­rate, as peo­ple can do much more than sim­ply store per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

Users can write love let­ters, over­due apolo­gies, or a list of in­struc­tions for some­one left be­hind, he said.

“The site is about send­ing pos­i­tive mes­sages,” Li said.

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