Germany’s highest court has ruled that the parents of a dead daughter have the rights to her Facebook account under inheritance law.
The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) said online data should be treated the same as private diaries or letters, and pass to heirs.
The case involves parents of a 15-year-old girl killed by a train in 2012.
They sought access to her Facebook account to try to determine whether the death was suicide.
Aside from emotional closure, the parents also wanted to know whether the train driver was entitled to compensation – as would be the case in the event of a suicide.
Facebook had refused access to the account after their daughter’s death, citing privacy concerns about the girl’s contacts.
Under its current policy, the company only allows relatives of the dead partial access to the account, allowing them to change the page into an online memorial or to delete it entirely.
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