19/01/2022

New Bill Proposed To Secure Digital Assets For Next Of Kin

The DUP have proposed a new Bill to create a law where the default position would be that the next of kin of a deceased or incapacitated person would automatically gain access to the contents of digital platforms held in their name.

The Digital Devices (Access for Next of Kin) Bill has been brought before Parliament by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley.

Speaking afterwards he said: "Every day, we are creating an ever larger digital footprint of our personal and financial lives online. Often we don't consider what happens to this information when someone unexpectedly dies.

"For many people, digital assets are predominantly of sentimental value. Photos and videos stored on a device or social media account. But it is not just sentimental records. Music and games are purchased online or crypto currency, frequent flyer points and other assets all have a monetary value, but only if next of kin has access.
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"Today, an estimated £25billion of our assets in the UK are held in online protected, cloud storage solutions and other accounts.

"Many people are under the impression they own their online content. They do not. Many forget to make provision for access to content in their will or to share passwords and access codes. Many of course do not have a will, especially young people. Much precious material, sentimental and otherwise, can be lost forever.

"In the UK there is no legislation to rights of access to a person's digital device or account. Here we are at the mercy of the mechanisms laid down by the tech companies to try to gain limited access. Each of these have different practices and policies creating an online labyrinth to navigate.

"This bill would remove the unnecessary barriers and unlock for many, happy memories and access to precious photos, videos, memories and other material that would be accessible to the next of kin at the most difficult time for many families.

"We need to bring our laws into line with the new digital century and ensure families are not blocked by tech companies from accessing their loved one's material."

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