Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Article on Digital Remains: The Users’ Perspectives

DigitalTal Morse & Michael Birnhack recently published an Article entitled, Digital Remains: The Users’ Perspectives, Wills, Trusts, & Estates Law eJournal (2019). Provided below is an abstract of the Article.

As our lives go digital, so will, inevitably, our death. Emails we send, photographs we post, and thoughts we share are all stored digitally. These are users’ digital remains that reflect their digital personalities and at the same time, make up the memories for friends and family. After death, the social norms and legal rules regarding access to digital remains are no longer clear. A conflict might arise between the privacy expectations of the user, and his or her family and friends’ wish to utilise the digital remains for mourning and commemoration. Some service providers and platforms have recently addressed the quandaries of digital remains, and legal systems slowly begin to follow. As these technological and legal responses emerge, we should not neglect the users themselves. What do users want? How do users wish to manage access to their digital remains? Based on a national survey of Israeli population, this chapter reveals the multiplicity of users’ perspectives, perceptions and practices regarding access to digital remains – their own and others. The chapter points to the emergence of new social perspectives on posthumous privacy and commemoration in the contemporary digital age, and comments on their relevance to policymaking.


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