Mali and Prakash G, ‘Death in The Era of Perpetual Digital Afterlife: Digital Assets, Posthumous Legacy, Ownership and its Legal Implications’

ABSTRACT
Man dies, but his online assets survive and, often, intestate. These digital assets by themselves may not have too much significance, but the data they hold is invaluable to the legal heirs, often mired in secrecy; man lives a secret life, and these online digital assets are privy to the same. The enormous digital assets a user creates during his or her lifetime result in a sizable amount of digital footprint posthumously. The consequence of all these cybernated dossiers is as unpredictable as the death itself, for there’s no uniform practice of preservation, removal, and inheritance of these digital assets by the data handlers like social media platforms and other content hosting websites. Adding to this is the lack of proper definition and legal consensus as to what constitutes digital assets and how the deceased user’s digital estate should be handled after his/her death. The objectives of this paper are to analyze the impact of death on digital assets and the association between unbequeathed online accounts and issues of identity theft and copyright violations of deceased user’s accounts. This paper has adopted a doctrinal research method. The paper also broached the concerns about how these data should be managed in the best interests of legal heirs of the departed. The study shows that there’s a lack of awareness among the netizens as to how to plan their digital estate while they are alive, and the personal laws of succession are also not drafted or revised foreseeing this new genre of assets.

Mali, Prashant and Prakash G, Aswathy, Death in The Era of Perpetual Digital Afterlife: Digital Assets, Posthumous Legacy, Ownership and its Legal Implications (2019). National Law School Journal 2019.

First posted 2021-10-29 17:00:04

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