From social media pages to email and banking—just about everything is going digital, says WEAU.com's recent article, "Law aims to protect internet users digital property after death.” In today's nearly paperless world, you can't help but become an online user. That's why legislators in Wisconsin have proposed a law to protect an individual's digital assets after he or she passes away.
"I don't know what will happen to the things I have in the Cloud or Facebook when I die,” said Paul Savides from Eau Claire.
He believes it's very important that the state create a way of protecting the privacy rights of those people who have those things online after they die. Our digital footprint is fairly permanent, but we are not.
"If there's a way we can modernize our laws, streamline this, and create a system, we can try and take some of that stress off of people as they're navigating already emotional territory,” said Rep. Melissa Sargent (D) Madison.
Representative Sargent said she wants to bring Wisconsin law up to date with technology by getting a bi-partisan bill through the State Legislature that is aimed at protecting individuals' online assets after they die.
The definition of "property,” of course, continues to evolve over time in this more technological and more digital world in which we live. The bill tries to remedy that issue.
The bill allows users to provide their account information to someone designated by them for management after they pass away. For example, Facebook has designed a legacy setting that permits users to do this. However, in the absence of those types of settings, a will or power of attorney could be used.
Digital assets frequently have great value, so it's critical for individuals to make certain that their property is protected. Wisconsin's legislators feel that we should at least have that fiduciary standard in place to protect that data, so it's not just released to someone only because they're a family member. This bill, they believe, would be a solid first step in tackling the modern day issue of digital property.
The bill is heading for approval in the State Senate.
Reference: WEAU.com (February 25, 2016) "Law aims to protect internet users' digital property after death”