The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

March 1, 2013

In death, Facebook photos could fade away forever



BEAVERTON, Ore. (AP) — A grieving Oregon mother who battled Facebook for full access to her deceased son's account has been pushing for years for something that would prevent others from losing photos, messages and other memories — as she did.

"Everybody's going to face this kind of a situation at some point in their lives," says Karen Williams, whose 22-year-old son died in a 2005 motorcycle accident.

The Oregon Legislature responded and took up the cause recently with a proposal that would have made it easier for loved ones to access the "digital assets" of the deceased, only to be turned back by pressure from the tech industry, which argued that both a 1986 federal law and voluntary terms of service agreements prohibit companies from sharing a person's information — even if such a request were included in a last will and testament.

Lobbyists agree the Stored Communications Act is woefully out of date but say that until it's changed, laws passed at the state level could be unconstitutional.

"Everybody wants to do the right thing, but the hard legal reality is the federal communications act," said Jim Hawley, a vice president at TechNet, an industry group that represents companies such as Google and Microsoft.

Oregon lawmakers moved ahead anyway with a proposal that would have given "digital assets" — everything from photos and messages stored online to intellectual property and banking information — the same treatment as material property for estate purposes.

"I think it's time for us to really look at what we can do now," said Democratic Sen. Floyd Prozanski after hearing Williams testify about her loss last month.

Two weeks later, however, language in the bill that would have covered social media accounts, from Facebook to Flikr, was stripped as tech lobbyists said the federal law and company privacy policies trumped anything that the bill would have included.

Text Only
Lifestyle
Photos


Poll

Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

Russia-Ukraine
Israel-Palestine
Iraq
None of the above
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee