Morning Read: Virginia Bill Gives Parents Access to Facebook Accounts of Deceased Children

Editor's Note: This story has been updated.

A bill that would allow parents of a deceased child to more easily gain access to the minor’s online accounts passed both houses of the Virginia legislature this week, and is headed to Gov. McDonnell for signature.

The Virginia Senate unanimously passed the legislation Monday. Tuesday evening, the House passed the Senate version of the bill.

Specifically, the bill allows a representative of the minor to obtain access to his or her digital accounts within 30 days of submitting a written request and death certificate to the social media site.

The Washington Post ran a story on the front page of its Metro section Monday explaining the origins of the bill and one Virginia family’s struggle to get answers after their teenage son committed suicide:

After Eric’s suicide in January 2011, Ricky and Diane Rash hunted for clues to explain their son’s death, including his Facebook page. But they found that the Internet giant, citing state and federal privacy laws, blocked their access until their son’s estate was settled. So now the Rashes want to change the law.  “We were just grieving parents reaching out for anything we could,” Ricky Rash said. “Our issue with Facebook and social media is, we should have access.”

The bill is said to be among the first in the country to establish guidelines for dealing with someone’s digital assets after they die.


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