We now are getting into this phase in the digital age called the Virtual Graveyard, where counts of Dead people’s Virtual accounts will outnumber the accounts of the ones alive. More than 8000 people with Facebook accounts are said to be dying on a daily bases.
With the numbers of people collectively using platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp coming up to billions, India easily counts up to millions in people using these sites.
The questions that arise now are if our digital assets are entrusted to safe hands when we are gone. Who has access to our accounts, our photos, and our digital memories?
"When someone dies, leaving behind his email and social media accounts, the same are movable property and that being so, any heirs of the concerned person can seek the right to access the same," said Pavan Duggal, one of the nation's top cyberlaw experts, in an interview with IANS.
If Facebook notices or is notified of someone’s death, they memorialize the account, allowing people to write messages to them, on their wall. Apart from this Face book has an option for a Legacy Contact, who will have access to your posts and pictures. The legacy contact is not given access to the person’s personal messages.
The said heirs can also ask the digital/social media companies to get access after giving the necessary proof.
"Invariably, the service provider may not be inclined to give such access without any requisite order from the court of competent jurisdiction. This could mean getting a succession certificate from a court of competent jurisdiction which could be a time-consuming process," Duggal told IANS.
Google, which owns Gmail and Picasa has an option called ‘Inactive Account Manager’ that simply hands over all the information and data to a designated person in the case of the account being left inactive for a cretin period of time.
Twitter, on the other hand, works with the consent of a designated person to only deactivate the account and nothing else Twitter says, "We are unable to provide account access to anyone, regardless of his or her relationship to the deceased."
Instagram Just like facebook memorializes your account, on notice from a friend or a near one.
ICloud and iTunes by Apple terminate any rights of any information on their platform to anyone once an account holder has passed away.