The Uniform Law Commission, a group of lawyers tasked by state governments with providing clear language for legislation, recommended a law this week that would give loved ones access to all of their deceased family members’ social media and email accounts.
Right now, it can be difficult for family members to gain access to such accounts, and they often have to petition Facebook repeatedly to receive it. Facebook “memorializes” the accounts of deceased users, allowing their friends to continue viewing old photos and posts, but there is no hard-and-fast rule regarding who can actually get into these accounts. However, if the Commission’s recommended language was officially passed into law, it could create a standardized legal process.
However, such a law could pack big potential privacy ramifications. As the AP points out, the contents of some people’s online accounts, like celebrities or politicians, could be worth a lot of money, and could raise problems with people trying to access them. Some people also may not want their emails or private Facebook messages being combed through after they’re gone, though the Uniform Law Commission’s proposed language would allow users to prevent this from happening by prohibiting it in their will. If a user didn’t explicitly prohibit it, however, his or her personal representative or executor of the will would get access to the user’s digital files.