Internet Data After Death: How Does Law Handle It?

Internet Data After Death: How Does Law Handle It?

As technology continues to evolve, more and more aspects of our lives are becoming digital. We store our personal information, photos, and memories online, relying on various online platforms to safeguard our data. But have you ever stopped to consider what happens to your internet data after you die? How does the law handle it? In this blog, we will explore the legal implications surrounding internet data after death and provide you with valuable insights and guidance.

The Digital Footprint

In today’s digital age, each of us has a unique digital footprint. This footprint consists of various online accounts and platforms we use, including social media profiles, email accounts, online banking, and cloud storage. When a loved one passes away, their digital footprint remains, raising questions about who should have access to their online presence and how their data should be handled.

To get a better understanding of how the law addresses these issues, let’s explore the laws and regulations in the UK and the US regarding internet data after death.

UK Law

In the UK, there are no specific laws dedicated to handling internet data after death. Instead, the legal framework relies on existing legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Data Protection Act 2018: This act governs the processing of personal data and ensures the protection of individuals’ rights. It applies to both living individuals and deceased individuals. When a person dies, their personal data is still protected under this act.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): The GDPR provides individuals with control over their personal data. It grants individuals the right to access, rectify, and erase their data, even after death. However, the GDPR does not explicitly specify who can exercise these rights on behalf of a deceased individual.

As a result, the management of a deceased individual’s internet data in the UK largely depends on the terms and conditions of the specific platform or online service provider. These terms and conditions may outline whether or not the platform permits the transfer of the deceased person’s data to a designated representative or family member.

Without clear legal guidelines, it is advisable for individuals to include specific instructions regarding their digital assets and data in their wills or to appoint a digital executor to manage their online presence after death.

For more detailed information on this topic, please refer to this article.

US Law

The United States has a complex legal landscape when it comes to internet data after death, with laws varying from state to state. However, there are several important federal laws and acts that provide some guidance.

Stored Communications Act (SCA): The SCA is a federal law that governs the privacy of electronic communications. Under the SCA, service providers, such as email providers and social media platforms, are generally prohibited from disclosing the contents of electronic communications without the consent of the account holder. However, there are exceptions for situations where the provider has received proper legal process, such as a search warrant, subpoena, or court order.

Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA): The UFADAA provides guidelines for the management and disposition of digital assets after death or incapacitation. It allows individuals to grant fiduciaries access to their digital assets and specifies a hierarchy for determining who has priority to manage and access the deceased person’s digital assets.

Due to the lack of consistent federal regulations, it is essential to consult state-specific legislation, as many states have adopted their own laws or variations of the UFADAA. Additionally, the terms and conditions of each online service or platform also play a crucial role in determining how internet data is handled after death in the US.

For a comprehensive guide to the laws regarding internet data after death in the US, consult your state’s legislation and seek legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

Protecting Your Digital Legacy

Given the complex legal landscape, it is crucial for individuals to take proactive steps to protect their digital legacy. Here are some practical tips:

  1. Include digital assets and instructions regarding their management in your will.
  2. Appoint a digital executor to handle your online accounts and data after your passing.
  3. Keep an updated list of your online accounts, usernames, and passwords in a secure location, such as a password manager.
  4. Regularly review and update your privacy settings on online platforms to align with your preferences.
  5. Consider using a reputable online service that allows you to store and manage your digital assets.

By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your internet data after death is handled according to your wishes and prevent potential conflicts or complications for your loved ones.

The Future of Internet Data After Death

As technology continues to advance, the topic of internet data after death is expected to gain further attention from lawmakers and regulators. There is a growing need for clearer legislation to address the challenges posed by digital assets and online accounts after an individual’s passing.

Efforts are already underway in some jurisdictions to introduce new laws specifically addressing internet data after death. For example, the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in the US is drafting an updated version of the UFADAA to provide increased clarity and uniformity across state lines.


Internet data after death presents a unique set of challenges for both individuals and the legal system. While the law is still evolving, individuals can take proactive steps to protect their digital legacy and ensure their internet data is handled in accordance with their wishes. By understanding the laws and regulations in your jurisdiction and seeking legal guidance when needed, you can navigate this complex landscape effectively.

Remember, it is essential to plan ahead and include specific instructions regarding your digital assets in your will or appoint a digital executor. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that your internet data will be handled appropriately and in line with your wishes.



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