Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-6d856f89d9-nr6nt Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-16T03:32:49.991Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

3 - Theoretical Underpinnings: Autonomy, Testamentary Freedom and Post-Mortem Privacy

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2023

Edina Harbinja
Affiliation:
Aston University
Get access

Summary

This chapter examines the primary underpinning value of the book, namely autonomy, and its relationship with the concept of post-mortem privacy. This analysis will be relevant to the case studies of emails and social networks due to the prevalence of personal data and privacy issues in these digital assets. The analysis can also apply to any other highly personal digital asset, any aspect of digital legacy and remains that intrinsically relates to what we consider our ‘self ’, who we are, or, as Floridi puts it, our ‘informational body’. The issue of post-mortem privacy is less relevant to games and virtual worlds since players usually take up imaginary identities and do not share their personal data and the real-life identities therein. It is also less relevant to highly monetary assets, such as virtual currencies.

In my earlier work, I have set up foundations for the theory and law of post-mortem and, later, postmortal privacy. The discussion in this chapter will consolidate these foundations and deepen the analysis of all the relevant concepts, including autonomy, privacy and data protection.

As discussed in Chapter 1, various stakeholders are concerned with the issues and the analysis in this book (users, families, service providers, friends, society). When considering choices amongst their interests, both doctrinal law and theoretical justifications for recognising the property status of digital assets do not always give a clear answer. I thus take a normative stance and promote the user’s interests over their family or intermediaries in this instance. The reason is that autonomy is asserted as the key concept driving the development of the law in this area, as seen in the discovery of post-mortem privacy. Simultaneously, the technology market has a clear drive to provide such autonomy via Google Inactive Account Manager or Facebook Legacy Contact. Furthermore, the US Uniform Law Commission work in the area and some data protection statutes in Europe illustrate a significant policy drive towards greater recognition of post-mortem privacy.

I contend that if one of the digital assets analysed in the subsequent chapters can be considered property, then the answer is clear, and they do transmit on death. Conversely, if this conclusion cannot be established, then the user’s interests and autonomy might not be met. In such circumstances, reform of the law might be required.

Type
Chapter
Information
Digital Death, Digital Assets and Post-Mortem Privacy
Theory, Technology and the Law
, pp. 52 - 83
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2022

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×