What happens to personal data after the death of a loved one: can the heir have access to Internet accounts?
The digital age is an integral part of our lives. Every day, we consult our banking applications, our emails and our social networks via the internet.
Upon the death of a loved one, the notary is mandated to make an inventory of the loved one's movable and/or immovable property.
His digital life: his publications, his subscriptions, his Facebook page, his Twitter account, his online payments. All his personal data remains accessible to the greatest number of people.
Without protection, the risk of identity theft is important.
The question then arises: can the heir access the internet accounts to retrieve or delete the digital data of the deceased relative?
The digital heir designated as a trusted person
Article 63 of the law of October 7, 2016 for a digital Republic called Lemaire ActThe special feature of this exhibition is that it is dedicated to right to digital death.
During his or her lifetime, any individual is able to define "directives regarding the retention, deletion and disclosure of his or her personal data after his or her death".
In doing so, your loved one took the initiative during his or her lifetime to make a will.
All information related to his digital assets (documents, photos, internet accounts) are now assigned to you.
Your duty is therefore to respect his last wishes by following general instructions on the data set, or special instructions which only concern certain elements.
If, for example, your loved one had a Facebook account, you become a "contact legatee", Google considers you as a "Inactive Account Manager", quant à Twitter, la plateforme accepte tout simplement de supprimer le compte.
Access to personal data under conditions for heirs without advance directives
In principle, creating an account on the Internet is the result of a strictly personal act - appealing to the respect of privacy, the right to image and the secrecy of correspondence.
Therefore, as an heir, close to the deceased, you cannot have access to his accounts.
In the absence of instructions transmitted by the deceased (identifiers and passwords), the Lemaire law allows the heirs "to access personal data processing"., "to obtain communication of information useful for the liquidation and division of the estate, "To proceed with the closure of the deceased's user accounts and "have them updated"..
The heirs therefore have a right of access, opposition and rectification.
In order for an heir to be able to take these steps, a certain amount of information must first be obtained:
- Retrieve the death certificate and the notoriety certificate
- List the different internet accounts used (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Gmail, apps, forums...),
- Report the death to site management,
- Fill out forms to make the account inactive.
Considerable administrative burden to protect the deceased's data
Although the Lemaires law allows heirs to have access to the data processing of the deceased loved one, a number of formalities must be taken into account, in order for an inactive internet account to be deleted or become a memorial account.
➡ The first step, is to find the forms for each site:
- On the Twitter page: click on the heading "Information on deceased persons.
- On the Facebook page: click on the heading " Manage a deceased person's account " .
- On the Google page: click on the heading "Send a request about a deceased user For more information, see "Inactive Account Manager".
- On the Outlook page: click on the "Access to Outlook.com, OneDrive and other Microsoft services in the event of death" .
- On the LinkedIn page: click on the "Deleting the profile of a deceased LinkedIn member" .
- On the Yahoo page: click on the "Options available when a Yahoo account holder dies".
- On the Instagram page: click on the "Report a deceased person's account on Instagram".
Each site has a help page to make it easier to find the form.
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➡ The second step is to send them
– A death certificate (to prove the death of your loved one),
– An act of notoriety (to verify that you are an heir),
– A copy of your identity card or passport .
Internet accounts will then be deleted (unless the deceased specifies otherwise in his or her will), deactivated, or associated with a memorial account (Facebook allows friends of the deceased to memorialize his or her page to give him or her digital immortality).
However, if the treatment of the deceased's data has not been respected, if it harms his memory, his reputation or his honor, the heir has the right to take legal action .
The steps to follow are as follows:
- Go to the National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL),
- File a complaint on the site,
- Request an appeal to the High Court (TGI),
- Initiate summary proceedings - to order an interim measure.
However, these procedures remain long and complex. Approximately 80% of the French are aware of them, but few of them succeed (obligation of means but not of results).
The Legapass solution to preserve the deceased's data and facilitate digital inheritance
In order to avoid all these steps, there is a solution to keep digital assets (photos, emails, social networks, neo-banks, crypto-currencies) up to date and completely safe: Legapassto safely prepare the digital succession.
An "offline" digital safe (without any internet connection) is available to keep access codes and passwords in a safe place. By means of a remote connection, the transmission and updating of identifiers can be done at any time.
The site is secure - personal data is stored permanently.
All confidential information is encrypted - using military-grade encryption algorithms. This means that no one has access to confidential data, not even Legapass.
Legapass also ensures a secure transmission of this digital heritage to heirs.
Once the legatee's information has been verified - an automatic process will delegate all confidential data from the vault "offline".
The principle is therefore simple: during your lifetime, you pass on what you wish to entrust to your heirs.