A new law signed into action in Delaware recently deals with how to handle a deceased person’s online data on sites such as Google and Facebook. Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law a new bill that gives estate attorneys and other fiduciaries more control over and access to their deceased customers’ data. Executors authorized to take control of a person’s will also are included in the new law and have the ability to transfer email and data to another family member, but is not required by the law to do so.
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DLA Piper partner Jim Halpert notes that this law contradicts a federal law passed by Congress all the way back in 1986 that forbids companies from sharing digital content of a user without the consent of the owner. Halpert goes on to say that 10 other states have considered signing a similar legislation to what was recently approved in Delaware. Halpert is the general consul of the State Privacy and Security Coalition, a group that includes Facebook and Google, and that has spoken out against the Delaware law.
Google is also speaking out against this law, saying in July that it already offers users the ability to decide what to do with their data if they should become inactive. The Delaware bill completely ignores those options, the company claims. Google urged the governor to veto the bill back in July. It has yet to comment on today’s ruling.