Your Legacy and Your Privacy: What’s on Grandma’s Facebook Page?

Photo Credit: Kate Haskell Digital Death and the “Right to be Forgotten” in the US

By Cory Schmelzer

As we are curating our trusts and estates in terms of our money and physical assets, we need to remember that our digital assets, our passwords, photos, Facebook posts, music, e-books and other assets are increasingly a large part of our legacy.

Last summer, the European Court of Justice ruled on the “Right to be Forgotten,” granting members of the public some rights to request that search engines like Google suppress links to personal information under some circumstances. This decision has been roundly criticized in the United States. Objections here are raised on First Amendment grounds, which will protect any company who publishes information that is already in the public record, not found to be defamatory.

Currently, in the US, only 11 states have laws regarding digital assets.  There is little conformity as to what is legal and where. Many online companies and sites have terms of service contracts that limit access, and deny users the ability to transfer digital assets after death.

So, where does that leave those of us, in the US, who are interested in curating our legacies?  Since it is not likely that we will be getting any legislative assistance in removing our digital information from the public domain anytime soon, I thought that I would share some articles with you, to give you some guidelines on current thoughts.

New York Post: What Happens to Your Accounts When You Die?

Smashing Magazine: How To Permanently Delete Your Account on Popular Websites

Lifehacker: Freeze the Credit of a Dying Relative to Prevent Identity Theft

Digital Death: Designate A Legacy Contact To Manage Your Facebook Page After You Die

Digital Death: Yahoo! Japan Launches Yahoo! Ending To Manage Digital Death

Google: Inactive Account Manager for Trusted Contacts

Thanks to Holly Isdale of Digital Death.  Photo Credit: Kate Haskell

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