Context Florida – Peter Schorsch: Privacy of digital information should extend beyond death
Recent polling by the eCommerce firm NetChoice found that more than 70 percent of Americans say that private online communications and photos should remain private after they die – unless there is prior consent for access by others, such as family and relatives, to access.
In addition, another 70 percent believe any dispute should fall on the side of privacy, particularly when there is no documented preference about how to handle private communications and photos.
These digital assets include things that increasingly tell the story of our modern lives: emails, text messages and online photographs and social media accounts.
Many of these things are uploaded to share with friends and family – when we are alive. But if they are private now – again, when we are around to enjoy it – then why should they be made public after we are gone?
The poll also found that only 15 percent of respondents believe estate attorneys and executors should have the sole discretion to decide how to manage private communications when there was no prior consent. Sixty-five percent of Americans say sharing private conversations and photos without permission violates privacy.
While three out of four Americans say they would give access to private communications to friends and family, or did not want anyone to have access, fewer than 10 percent believe an estate attorney or executor should have full access to private communications.