On the other hand, it's their daughter's privacy. She surely wrote messages to people that she didn't want to share with her parents. And there might also be messages on this account that the parents don't want to find. People with psychological problems can write pretty dark stuff and she might also have talked about her parents in those messages. I'm not sure the parents will only get the closure they want, they might also dig up stuff, they later will wish they hadn't found.
So in the end, I'm not sure I agree with the judges decision. I think I share information with my parents the way I want to and definitely share other information with my friends in a group and 1on1 in messages. And I'm also sure I don't want my parents or another party not participating in some of those message groups to ever read that content.
However, Facebook could easily add an "instructions after death" section .. in fact IIRC they did.
Then create a will/trust that specifically mentions that your diary should be shredded or given to a friend of yours that you trust but NOT the parents.
This is happening all the time.
Why should her Facebook account be treated differently?
Imagine a world where children don’t buy diaries and journals but some unscrupulous corporation gives them to children for free...now go ahead and write all your personal secrets in there and the corporation will own the rights to those secrets and use them to sell to other unscrupulous corporations to decide if the children are a good fit for their product advertising.
If it sounds far fetheched it’s not, if it sounds deeply disturbing it is...not only because it is real and happening, but because everyday Facebook (and other tech companies) are entering into contracts with minors, which these kings of data know or should know are illegal contracts to begin with (in the US minors can not enter into contracts unless necessary)
The heir enters the contractual relationship in the decedent‘s stead, with all privileges and obligations.
At least in Germany.
Practically speaking, I think there are so many tangents to go off here that basically the courts could decide whatever they consider „right“, and that‘s probably in favor of the parents.
FB does not own content you post, you grant them a distribution license. You still own the copyright to your own original work.
does that mean a minor can sue fb for distributing their content?
Also, the age of deceased may mean it's treated differently. From the article:
> the parents had a right to know who their child, a minor, had spoken to online
>On the other hand, it's their daughter's privacy.
No, the daughter is dead, according to the title.
I mean, I understand that some people think that our relationships to phones and digital world somehow are deeper/more-private than any other medium we had before...
But I'm pretty sure people felt that diaries and love letters were pretty private before Facebook or Bell's invention.
Phone companies werent willingly storing our "content" to profit from it. They were storing calls because of court orders.
Facebook is storing our data for posterity and I have a right to request Facebook to rid/edit that data (even if it's just marking it as "deleted") and think my next of kin should inherit the same rights I had over that data.
It does make me wonder, however, about the case of a psychiatrist or psychoanalyst who keeps paper notes on what his private patients have spoken about, and then dies suddenly in an accident together with his immediate family, so his next of kin and heir turns out to be a distant cousin, who happens to be an irresponsible teenage drug addict, say. Could anything be done to block the transfer of those paper notes in a case like that?
Perhaps a self-employed psychiatrist ought to have appointed a law firm as their executor and left instructions that patient notes should be destroyed rather than transfered to the next of kin, but if they'd forgotten to do that?
I was thinking of a private practitioner of complementary medicine, who might not be officially qualified or officially registered or officially anything at all, at least in England, where professions are not usually regulated. I'm fairly certain privacy would nevertheless be expected...
I've just asked someone who knows a bit more about English law than me. Apparently there's a common-law tort of breach of confidence, which would probably prevent an heir from revealing what's in the (pseudo)therapist's notes and might allow someone to get an injunction to stop the papers from being inherited in the first place. Interestingly, data protection probably wouldn't have much to do with this hypothetical case, nor with the hypothetical case in which a random person finds a box of confidential notes/letters in a hedge.
> Presumably it really only applies to interstate insurers,
It applies to all public and private health insurers/payers and healthcare providers in the United States. (Source: over a decade working in roles with some involvement in HIPAA compliance for a large, public, intrastate healthcare payer.)
Specifically, relating to the protection of information after death, the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects information for 50 years after death, but does give full control to the decedent's “personal representative” as determined by applicable law during that period.
Right are a completely arbitrary construction of organized society so it's strange to suggest there are any absolute rules that govern 'rights.'
Are you familiar with the United States Declaration of Independence ?
>We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
It seems to me that 'rights' could exist without an 'organized society'. But, so far, I don't think any 'organized societies' really recognize 'rights of a dead person' (chiefly, I think, because there is no longer a 'person' to have rights).
Do you know of a law that grants rights to dead persons?
>SEC. 2. (a) Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right. A law may not restrain or abridge liberty of speech or press.
Also of interest to this thread is:
>SECTION 1. All people are by nature free and independent and have inalienable rights. Among these are enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing, and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy.
How does a dead person enjoy life and liberty? Acquire, possess, protect property?
Upon further looking, I can't find anything to back up my claim on photos. There have been various efforts to provide these from time to time, but it doesn't look like any of them resulted in passed laws, or case laws. There's some case law around heir's right to privacy with regard to photography of the deceased, but that doesn't seem well settled either.
Essentially, in the scenario where you only have the rights the government grants you, the default uncharted behavior is illegal or immoral. In a scenario where you have all the rights not limited by the government, you can do new things and have the right to engage in new behavior without fear.
It's not a dichotomy between absolutism and nilism - there are happy middle grounds.
It's like when a people revolt against their government. This is wrong to do, unless they win; then it was always correct.
There are many people who succeeded in our time who are viewed by many rational people as being very wrong. Corrupt Russian oligarchs, policy-anulling health insurance bosses, Bitcoin thieves...
Having the power, or cunning, to get away with something doesn't make it right to do so!
But as a society? Within its own framework? Sure it does. Another society can view it as wrong, and maybe they will go to war over it - what they used to call an 'appeal to God.' The ultimate winner is the right one.
Why do you think what's 'right' can change over time?
There is a set of universal standards and expectations have existed for millennia in many forms. There has always been an implicit set of common rules -- common across all cultures and generations -- that we as a species live by. Implying that everything is a social construction mental laziness and a desecration of our fore-bearers at best and malicious destruction of the bonds of society at worst.
To the specific point, I struggle to find any set of rules which is common across all cultures and generations; care to name a few?
Another is that parents' authority over children is sacred, as well as the bonds of marriage and friendship.
parents' authority over children is sacred
That's completely false, many societies (ours included) have imposed restrictions on how parents can raise their children, and sometimes in quite extreme ways (e.g. the Agoge). And the child protection services in our modern Western societies take away plenty of children.
The rights of parents over children are more like the authority of the king in the Little Price - absolute, as long as they only use it in certain ways.
One can embrace nihilism without acting it out. We all have a choice to make: we can choose to follow the rules of our society or to not follow them. A small number of people choose to not follow them, and the rest of us choose how to deal with them to preserve the society the majority of us prefer. It happens every day.
It's all a choice, we have our free will that allows us to act however we choose. In the absence of absolute rules we can create our own rules to follow.
The anticipation of that right being fulfilled can inform your actions as a living person - you might, for example, have a long-term goal (while you're alive, obviously, dead people don't have goals) and set up a trust to accomplish that goal after you die. It can also inform you what may be or not be private after your death, so if you don't want family to read secrets you share with friends then don't put them on Facebook.
Facebook allows you to set a legacy contact , who will have some basic rights, or you can request to then have your account deleted. This has to be initiated by someone/anyone after you pass away.
Google allows you to predetermine some basic actions , and share data from your account with other persons. This is triggered by not using the account for a set period of time (between 3 months and 1.5 years), so it activates automatically, but likely some time after you pass away.
Sure, the parents would have gotten letters she possessed, but in ye olden days (ie, 20 years ago) those would have been letters to her, not from her. And it wouldn't have included letters she threw away. Or maybe hid somewhere. This is everything. So it's a bit complicated.
In the end, I actually do agree with the courts... I think it's the most reasonable course. But I also think platforms like Facebook should give us the ability to delete data for this exact purpose, and we should use services like Signal for things that are truly sensitive that we never want to get in anyone else's hands.
We already have a process for what happens to a person's belongings after death; a person's online accounts are belongings; therefor we already have a process for what happens to a person's online accounts after death. Yes, each jurisdiction will have its own rules, but again we already have a process for determining what happens to possessions in other jurisdictions upon the owner's death.
(as an aside, this is part of why '… but with a computer!' patents shouldn't be patentable: they're obvious)
Additionally, not everything the T&C says, up to and including "accounts are not transferable" is not automatically legal.
at least now we have consistency, this is of course good
And it SO ARROGANT of Facebook to think they own the data to such an extent where they can effectively deny access to the data from the person who produced it, or in the case of death, to the next of kin.
1. The physical letters that I send to a friend are with my friend. So he is now owner of it and when he dies, it goes to his legal heir. Though I am the one who wrote them. Should it not belong to my heirs since I am the creator ?
2. If we are mapping online to offline equivalents, who inherits the facebook messages ? Is it the sender or receiver ? The messages contain both sent and received items as in discussions.
I'd argue both, for the simple reason they both have a copy of the message.