Avv. Silvio Marzari
Avv. Maria Gabriella Maggiora
Avv. Roberto Nicolini
Avv. Stefania Gioco
Avv. Stefania Brugnoli
Avv. Stefano Carrara
Avv. Alessio Albertini

Access to digital data of the deceased and the incapacitated person


Will your social networks be disclosed to your relatives? -

With the widespread use of digital data in the most diverse spheres, the question increasingly arises: if the holder is deceased or has become incapacitated, who can obtain all the digital data of the person in question from the various entities, banks, social networks, health facilities?

The question is not one of mere entertainment, but concerns different and broad spheres of personal rights, economic and property rights as well as personality rights.

A practical solution that I suggest, is to collect access keys and passwords for loved ones in a special document: one can also think of indicating them in the will. This allows family members to access and dispose of the data. But what happens if this is not done? Who has access?

The solution adopted consistently in recent years by the Italian courts is to apply a specific rule, introduced in 2018 and namely Article 2-terdecies, of Legislative Decree 196/2003, according to which a person's rights can be claimed, in his absence, by those who have an interest of their own, or by those acting on his behalf as a proxy, or even by those acting on his behalf for family reasons worthy of protection. Moreover, the same rule prevents these third parties from accessing the digital data, if the person in question has expressly forbidden it.

Starting with the latter statement, it is reassuring to know that any of us can decide not to allow our heirs access to our digital data, especially the most confidential and personal data.

It is equally reassuring that the Italian courts, with the specificities of each individual case, normally grant this right to third parties, relatives or heirs, of the deceased person, in the event that they request not only to have access to, but also to dispose of and keep all the digital data of the person in question. This has important implications, since even after death a relative can for instance obtain the medical records of the deceased. Another case is social security and pension data, held by public and private bodies, which can be used to obtain survivor's pensions or other benefits.

To the question of what to do in this matter, that I was asked recently, I can give the same answer here as well: be aware of your digital identity, data and digital assets and think in advance about what you would like to do with them, when you won’t be around. Like family jewellery.


updated July 2022







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