Email users should have 'more control' over post-mortem message transmission

December 18, 2019

Email users should have far more control over the transmission of their messages upon death, a new study suggests.

Currently, Google and Microsoft, the main email providers, have contractual provisions in place which allows them to regulate the post-mortem transmission of emails regardless of copyright and succession laws.

But the study, led by Dr Edina Harbinja, Senior Lecturer in Media Privacy and Law at Aston Law School in Birmingham, suggests these provisions don't offer meaningful control over the assets of their users and the law fails to recognise this.

The paper, published in Death Studies, argues the owner of an email account should have the right to privacy after death, with the default communication of messages to third parties prohibited without the deceased's consent. This would mean amending legislation and policy to give users the choice of what happens to their emails after they have died.

In practice, for example, the law would be reformed to allow a personal representative to be given the authority to determine whether the deceased's emails should be deleted, or valuable unpublished works which only exist in an email account should pass on as copyright to heirs.

Dr Edina Harbinja said: "I have argued that the UK law surrounding digital assets post-mortem should be overhauled for many years.

"Not only is the legislation unclear, but it fails to take into account new developments such as encrypted communications.

"A reform of the law would mean that such confidential data would only be made available in line with the deceased's wishes."
-end-
This study was first made available online in July 2019 ahead of final publication in print in December 2019.

Aston University

Related Privacy Articles from Brightsurf:

Yale team finds way to protect genetic privacy in research
In a new report, a team of Yale scientists has developed a way to protect people's private genetic information while preserving the benefits of a free exchange of functional genomics data between researchers.

Researchers simulate privacy leaks in functional genomics studies
In a study publishing November 12 in the journal Cell, a team of investigators demonstrates that it's possible to de-identify raw functional genomics data to ensure patient privacy.

Some children at higher risk of privacy violations from digital apps
While federal privacy laws prohibit digital platforms from storing and sharing children's personal information, those rules aren't always enforced, researchers find.

COVID-19 symptom tracker ensures privacy during isolation
An online COVID-19 symptom tracking tool developed by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center ensures a person's confidentiality while being able to actively monitor their symptoms.

New research reveals privacy risks of home security cameras
An international study has used data from a major home Internet Protocol (IP) security camera provider to evaluate potential privacy risks for users.

Researcher develops tool to protect children's online privacy
A University of Texas at Dallas study of 100 mobile apps for kids found that 72 violated a federal law aimed at protecting children's online privacy.

Do COVID-19 apps protect your privacy?
Many mobile apps that track the spread of COVID-19 ask for personal data but don't indicate the information will be secure.

COVID-19 contact tracing apps: 8 privacy questions governments should ask
Imperial experts have posed eight privacy questions governments should consider when developing coronavirus contact tracing apps.

New security system to revolutionise communications privacy
A new uncrackable security system created by researchers at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the University of St Andrews and the Center for Unconventional Processes of Sciences (CUP Sciences) is set to revolutionize communications privacy.

Mayo Clinic studies patient privacy in MRI research
Though identifying data typically are removed from medical image files before they are shared for research, a Mayo Clinic study finds that this may not be enough to protect patient privacy.

Read More: Privacy News and Privacy Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.