The matter of what happens to your online footprint when you die is still unresolved.
The Uniform Law Commission, a group of lawyers appointed by state governments to coordinate legal issues among states, is recommending that legislatures adopt a law declaring emails, social media accounts, and online products such as blogs and websites should be classified as “digital assets,” and access should be granted to family or loved ones unless otherwise stipulated in a will.
“Facebook and other tech companies have been reluctant to hand over customer’s private data, and many people say they wouldn’t their families to have unfettered access to their life online. But when confronted with death, families say they need access to settle financial details or simply for sentimental reasons,” Michael Garfield, the High-Tech Texan, tells KTRH News.
“I think the question is should your emails, web albums and other online accounts die when you do?” asks Garfield. “Or should you be able to pass them down to a family member like you do a house, or maybe a box of letters.”
It would still be up to each state legislature to pass the law, or their variation of it, to be made effective.
In the interim, access to a deceased person’s online possessions remains in a grey area. The “terms of service” that each person often agrees to are still the legal gold standard and are hard for family members to trump. Most tech companies, Facebook and Google among them, are highly reluctant to place themselves in legal jeopardy be releasing private information to anyone that has not been recognized as appropriate by a court.