Delaware Passes Law to Give Heirs Rights to Digital Property

August 19, 2014 - GamePolitics Staff

Delaware has become the first state in the US to enact a law that ensures families’ rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death. Last week, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell signed House Bill (HB) 345, "Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act," which gives "heirs and executors" legal authority to take control of a digital account or device, according to Ars Technica.

Other states do have some laws on the books that relate to limited digital assets rights for heirs, but they are very limited in scope and not as broad as the new Delaware law. For now, the state's version of UFADAA only applies to residents of Delaware.

“If a California resident dies and his will is governed by California law, the representative of his estate would not have access to his Twitter account under HB 345,” Kelly Bachman, a spokeswoman for the Delaware governor’s office, said by e-mail to Ars Technica.

“But if a person dies and his will is governed by Delaware law, the representative of that person’s estate would have access to the decedent’s Twitter account under HB 345. So the main question in determining whether HB 345 applies is not where the company having the digital account (i.e., Twitter) is incorporated or even where the person holding the digital account resides.”

The new Delaware law states:

A fiduciary with authority over digital assets or digital accounts of an account holder under this chapter shall have the same access as the account holder, and is deemed to (i) have the lawful consent of the account holder and (ii) be an authorized user under all applicable state and federal law and regulations and any end user license agreement.

Here's what the architect of the bill says about it:

“This problem is an example of something we see all the time in our high-tech age—our laws simply haven’t kept up with advancements in technology,” said Daryl Scott, in a statement last week. Scott is a member of the Delaware House of Representatives and the lead author of the bill. “By signing this bill into law, we’re helping to protect the rights and interests of the average person in the face of a rapidly evolving digital world."

Source: Ars Technica


 
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