Sunday, September 1, 2013
The Canadian Bar Association recently considered the issue of what happens to a person’s digital assets after they’ve passed. Most believe that because Canadian law does not currently take digital assets into account, now is the time for legislation to deal with what will certainly become a growing problem.
When a person buys an album or book online, what they really own is the non-transferable license to access the digital copy. Uniform legislation would give customers some kind of recourse to take companies to court for access to a deceased user’s account.
The access granted to the loved ones of the deceased also differs depending on the platform. While companies like Google will give parents and executors full access, companies like Twitter will shut down the account entirely. This long overdue debate could lead to a set of “industry guidelines” to help the grieving navigate the various issues that arise with a person’s digital legacy.
For more information, please see my article, Estate Planning in the Digital Age.
See Tobi Cohen, Lawyers Raise Questions About Digital Data Rights After the Owner’s Death, The Vancouver Sun, Aug. 20, 2013.