The Digital Afterlife Debate: What Happens to Your Online Assets After You’re Gone

April 25, 2013

The digital afterlife debate over who owns the online assets of someone who has died has been in the news recently, brought to light by several families whose children have died tragically and who want access to their child’s online accounts to preserve memories and try, in the case of suicide, to make sense of a senseless act.

To date, six states — Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and Virginia — have passed legislation regarding the ownership of digital assets, with legislation pending in a number of other states and at the federal level as well.

At the heart of the debate are concerns over violating privacy laws. Facebook went to court in California last September to block the estate of a British model from getting access to her Facebook account and prevailed.

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