Privacy Rights After Death? Assemblymember Calderon Pioneers Law to Protect Online Accounts

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(Sacramento) – When a person passes away, what happens to their email and social media accounts?  It’s a question California State Assemblymember Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) addresses with Assembly Bill 691.  Once enacted, AB 691 will establish guidelines for probate courts, online service providers and estate administrators when dealing with the online assets of a deceased person.

AB 691 also puts power in the hands of the owner of those accounts if they indicate their wishes prior to their death.  Watch this Assembly Web Report to learn more about AB 691 and how it may affect you.

May 11: Press Release

SACRAMENTO, CAAssembly Bill 691, authored by Assemblymember Ian Calderon which would set a framework and provide clarity over how a deceased individual’s private online information is handled, was approved unanimously on the Assembly Floor today, 77-0.

“California should lead and guide other states in this important policy area,” stated Assemblymember Ian Calderon. “There have been several attempts nationally to create a model for other states to use in order to address this issue. With the passage of AB 691, California has an opportunity to take the reins and secure consumer privacy in the 21st century.”

AB 691 establishes the Privacy Expectations Afterlife & Choices Act, creating guidelines and procedures for how fiduciaries can handle a deceased person’s estate, while respecting the privacy choices of the deceased individual. The measure also protects the privacy of people who shared private messages with the deceased person.

Currently, there is no statute in place that protects the private information of the newly deceased. As Californians increasingly use online services to produce and store information, it is important to consider what happens to their stored online communications after they are deceased. A recent poll indicates that 70% of Americans want their online communications to remain private after they die, unless they give prior consent for others to have access.

Many other states are considering similar statutes to protect individuals’ online communications. Given that California is a national and global technology hub, AB 691 is likely to serve as a model for the rest of the nation when dealing with digital privacy issues.

Assemblymember Ian Calderon is the Chair of the Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media. Calderon is also the Chair of the Select Committee on Youth and California’s Future.  He represents the 57th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Industry, La Habra Heights, La Mirada, La Puente, Norwalk, Santa Fe Springs, South El Monte, Whittier and the unincorporated communities of Avocado Heights and Hacienda Heights

Click here to view Assembly Bill 691