Following on from my recent post about Apple starting to allow simplified access to a deceased's digital records, this STEP article shows that governments are now beginning to grow tired of the slow pace of big tech companies in rolling out some form of uniform, simplified process by which users' accounts and digital media can be accessed after their death. In the UK the MP Ian Paisley (most likely not the Ian Paisley you are thinking of!) has submitted draft legislation to take such a decision out of the hands of each individual tech company and simply mandate a blanket approach to all such companies via passing a new law.

Whilst I am often wary about politicians' assessments (for instance what constitutes a work meeting or not), Mr Paisley estimates a staggering £25 billion of assets is held in one digital form or another in the UK alone. It is also apparent that wealth, or perhaps more accurately 'value', can take many forms such as downloaded music, loyalty points and of course sentimental value such as digital photographs and videos.

In short, the proposal is that the deceased's personal representatives (those who deal with their estate and assets after their death in any event) would have an automatic right to access such digital accounts. If they did not have the relevant codes or passwords, the big tech companies would be obligated to give access and allow those assets to be administered as occurs with any other type of asset in the probate process. I think this is a very welcome development given the levels of frustration and upset caused to deceased's relatives in recent years. It will also likely lead to people considering far more closely exactly to whom their digital asset should pass under the terms of their Will.