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I want a site, where I can put some documents and a password, or a list of passwords. The site should keep documents secret while I enter the passwords periodically, removing them after the last password or publishing them if passwords are not being entered.

It should be like a dead-man's switch.

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  • What are your aim and threat model?
    – miniBill
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:32
  • 2
    Aim - cool up potential presecutors. Threat model - I'm killed or falsely improsoned and compromising evidense get published. Note that it is not an actual vital question, I'm not in any calamity now.
    – vm29skq
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:41
  • 1
    Are you going to self host?
    – miniBill
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:42
  • No, a usual service is preferrable.
    – vm29skq
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:51
  • 5
    So you're willing to accept the fact that any operator at the service has access to the data everyday?
    – miniBill
    Dec 28, 2014 at 20:55

2 Answers 2

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Unlike most software recommendations, it is impossible to recommend a service here and confidently say that it works: to know if it worked, you would have to be dead, right?

At any rate, there are many websites that offer free and/or paid versions of this. One of the major problems is that many of those websites have gone out of business, so selecting a website can be difficult because you don't know if the site will still exist when you die.

Nevertheless, there are some services that have been around for a little while and have adopted a simple enough business model that they might survive. (Pardon the pun.)

[Because of reputation points, I can only post two links.]

Two examples with free and premium versions: deathswitch.com deadmansswitch.net

A blog post that discusses the fact that many companies have failed: http://digital-era-death-eng.blogspot.mx/2012/07/before-death-leaving-massages-behind.html

A similar idea to your question is "Trusted Contacts" If you were to die, your Google and Facebook accounts would presumably no longer have any activity. If you have pre-arranged a list of trusted contacts with each company, then those companies will then allow your trusted contact(s) to access your account. See Google's explanation: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3036514?hl=en

Facebook's feature is really designed to help you, while you are alive, regain access to your account if you are locked out. But the same process could certainly be used by your estate to get access to your Facebook account.

The low-tech method is to hire an estate lawyer.

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  • On Google you can set whether certain contacts get access or whether your data is deleted. Dec 29, 2014 at 9:14
  • Looks like the Google thing is the answer.
    – vm29skq
    Dec 29, 2014 at 10:23
  • You don't have to be "dead" to test if it works. All you need to do is upload a mock/empty document, then stop checking in with your secret code and verify your mock document is published. Apr 28, 2019 at 0:39
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For anyone still wondering: That's a so-called "Dead Man's Switch", see e.g. How To Foil NSA Sabotage: Use a Dead Man's Switch (by Cory Doctorow; skip to "This gave me an idea"). As that article is more than a year old now, I wonder if anyone put that idea into action.

A little Google-Fu indeed brought something up:

Dead Man's Switch

You write a few e-mails and choose the recipients. These emails are stored securely, so you can be sure that no-one except the intended recipient will read them until they're sent. Your switch will email you every so often, asking you to show that you are fine by clicking a link. If something were to... happen... to you, your switch would then send the emails you wrote to the recipients you specified. Sort of an "electronic will", one could say.

More on this also in an article called Dead Man’s Switch for Digital Hermits. Not exactly what you requested, but pretty close. Similar services:

Also see:

Software solutions

And as we are recommending software here, not services:

Reddit: Software equivalent of a Dead Man's Switch discusses how to set up your own. This basically requires:

  • a scheduler like Cron to fire the events (e.g. execute the publication script if it's there, check for the last successful "delay trigger", etc.)
  • the "information bundle"
  • a place where to publish it, list of mail addresses to inform, whatever.

The information should of course be encrypted, best with the GPG/PGP keys of the recipients. This way you ensure no "raiders" could see it before the switch fires. That way it'd work like the "Dead Man's Switch" service I initially mentioned. There's even a Dead Man's Snitch piece of software to tell you right away when something doesn't happen (i.e. you forgot to tell your service you're alive), which can be used as a reminder that "the countdown is running".

Dead Man's Switch on Linux describes in detail how to set up your own "Dead Man's Switch" (introduced in this forum thread). It's almost plain Bash, and you could most likely just copy-paste the scripts.

A "just install" and "ready-to-use" solution for this doesn't seem to exist – at least I wasn't able to find one in the past year (when I first got interested in that topic). Hope the above still helps you out.

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  • Another dead man's switch implementation: enteex.com
    – Vlad
    Apr 13, 2021 at 20:38

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