Digital Afterlife Project

by Olivia Erickson and Cecilia Donnelly Krum, with support from Matthew Schroeder

Download Executive Summary

Estimates show that 90 percent of Americans are online. We increasingly turn to online services to handle critical parts of our lives, but few platforms provide a way for user information to be safely managed or deleted after a user passes away. In many instances, estate executors or family members are required to provide death certificates, court orders, or even sue companies for the ability to access their loved one’s online accounts. To facilitate access to these assets, state governments can extend existing probate laws that authorize fiduciary access to digital assets by classifying estate executors as authorized agents under data privacy laws. Companies can also better design their products in order to allow users to grant custodial access and instructions on a per-platform basis before they pass away.

Click below to view various resources for navigating the digital afterlife, including design principles for companies looking to make a policy change and educational materials to explain the issue.

View the Demo Day Presentation
View the Infographic

Read the Public Comment
Read the Policy Brief
View the Design Principles Toolkit
Read an Op-Ed on the Consent Framework for Virtual Beings
Read the Letter Sent to the American Bar Association