Can digital inheritance prevail over the right to privacy?

A Milan court ruling authorized a woman to receive passwords for her dead husband's accounts

 donna to pc 1920 When a family member dies, it is not always possible to access their social networks. Now several heirs are starting to turn to the courts Photo Video

Among the valuable data that a person leaves when they die are passwords to access email addresses, social profiles and data contained on their phone. Family members of the deceased can ask them if they have an interest protected by law. This was established by a sentence of the Court of Milan, which authorized a woman to receive the passwords of the accounts of her dead husband: the privacy of the deceased can be sacrificed to protect other rights, in this case that of the wife and children to take possession of its digital assets to verify any last wishes.
But the heirs cannot always claim this right. If the deceased has not left any digital will, that is, he has not prohibited access to his data in writing by the heirs, it is necessary to evaluate from time to time. In some cases the Privacy Guarantor considers legitimate access to the health data of a deceased person, perhaps for the purposes of a medical liability action, but also to INPS data, to reconstruct the pension, to those of the Revenue Agency, to understand if the deceased has left tax debts, to bank details, to ascertain any savings and investments of the deceased, which are due to the heirs. After the Milan ruling, even the web passwords become available upon request of the heirs.

Lecturer in Information Law at the Catholic University of Milan