What shall the people who are dear to us leave behind them, once they're gone?
Would we want our loved ones to get access to what we'll leave behind?
Would we want to be granted access to what they'll leave behind?
- Facebook profiles? Emails? SMSs? Images? Texts? Websites? Blogs?
What if it'll be important to us, or to them, for emotional reasons, to access these varied digital contents?
What if it'll be important to them, or to us, to access it for practical reasons - such as business related, or of a financial value?
In February 2013, the state of Virginia passed a new bill that will take effect soon (It was signed by the Governor in March 2013). The bill was initiated by Ricky and Diane Rash, whose 15 year old son, Eric, committed suicide and left no farewell letter. When his grieving parents addressed Facebook, hoping some light would be shed on the circumstances that led to his death through his Facebook account, they received a negative reply and were denied access. The bill states:
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 for a digital account 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 deceased minor's communications and subscriber records. The provider shall provide the personal representative with access to the deceased minor's communications and subscriber records within 60 days from the receipt of a written request from the personal representative and a copy of the deceased minor's death certificate.
Last year I discovered that unlike international Internet supplier, no Israeli supplier publishes online its policy in case of a user’s death. More about this can be found in my post "The Israeli angle of Digital Death".
This survey was initiated by this blog, Digital Dust, in collaboration with the blogs 'Room 404' by Ido Kenan and Jonny Silver and 'Blazing Science' by Dr. Roey Tzezana. I would like to thank the afore mentioned people for making this survey possible.
This survey is short. Kindly complete it, and distribute to family, friends, colleagues etc., of all ages. Let's start this chain of reactions together.
The survey is in Hebrew only, as I'm targeting the Israeli audience. If you read Hebrew, please click here to participate.
Thank you Noa Ron for translating this post.
June 4th update: More than 500 people participated. I thank you all. The survey is now closed.