Legislation addresses social media content after death

NORWALK – Assemblymember Ian Calderon introduced AB 691 last week, legislation that would provide a process for people to choose whether they want the digital assets stored on their online accounts to remain private after they die. AB 691 would safeguard personal information after a person’s death and allow access “to only those people we want to share our digital property with,” Calderon said.

The measure authorizes disclosure through a written declaration, such as a will, or through a setting within their online account.

Currently, families have limited options when trying to access a deceased family member’s social media account due to online privacy settings.

This causes unnecessary financial and emotional burden on families, said Calderon, adding that online companies “should not bear the responsibility of deciding what to do with a deceased individual’s digital assets.”

“Today, a significant portion of the information about our lives is kept online on our personal accounts,” said Calderon. “The digital assets we “own” on social media sites or in our emails are private information, and individuals should have the right to choose whether they remain private after their (death).”

A recent Zogby poll indicated that 70% of Americans say their online communications and photos should remain private after they die, unless they gave prior consent for others to have access.

In the same study, only 15% say that estate attorneys should control their private communications and photos, even if they gave no prior consent for sharing.

 

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Published: March 5, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 47