The is a growing group of tools and resources on line (see prior post) to help people express their thoughts and feelings digitally for use at their passing. Of course, serious problems can arise if the personal representatives of the deceased don’t have access to appropriate logins and passwords. So, the law is slowly grappling with this: Adding to the list of states that have passed laws pertaining to digital estates, the Virginia Legislature passed HB 1752 today affording parents of deceased minors access to their social media accounts. The bill’s description reads:
Powers of personal representatives; digital accounts. Provides that the personal representative of a deceased minor has the power to assume the deceased minor’s terms of service agreement with an Internet service provider, communications service provider, or other online account service provider for the purposes of consenting to and obtaining the disclosure of the minor’s digital assets. The provider shall provide the personal representative with access to the minor’s digital assets within 30 days from the receipt of a written request from the personal representative and a copy of the deceased minor’s death certificate.
While this law is only limited to minors, it represents a growing trend amongst consumers to take more control of their data. The law is a testament to the work of Ricky Rash, who took up the issue after his son Eric took his own life without any explanation. Rash hopes that Eric’s Facebook account will hold the some answers for him. Of course this highlights the conflict with our right of privacy: there are many digital relationships and resources which we prefer remain confidential and non-accessible after our death of disability.