German Courts Rejects Parent's Plea To Look Into Dead Daughter's Facebook Account

German court denies mother access to dead daughter's FB data

German court denies mother access to dead daughter's FB data

BERLIN (AP) - A Berlin court has denied a mother access to her deceased daughter's Facebook data, ruling German privacy laws outweigh her parental rights.

The case began shortly after the teen was reportedly struck and killed by a train at age 15 in 2012, when Facebook first refused to allow parents account access.

The girl's mother is reported to have had access to her daughter's account before she died, but Facebook froze the page once it was notified about the girl's death, thus restricting anyone from signing in.

Facebook appealed this ruling and, on Wednesday, Berlin district court ruled in the company's favour.

The panel found that emails and Facebook entries were similar to letters and diaries, which "can be inherited regardless of their content".

The Berlin appeals court overturned this on Wednesday, arguing that privacy rights trumped inheritance rights.

"Everything is wide open, it is very interesting", said Matthias Rösler, president of the German Inheritance Forum, to Spiegel Online. But this third party's rights are limited: they can change the profile photo or react to friend requests, but they still cannot read old chat exchanges - the issue at stake in the Berlin court case.

The Berlin appeals court reckons it extends to Facebook chats too, so the girl's messages could only be accessed under specific circumstances, such as technical necessity, which doesn't apply here, and the consent of those involved in the communications.

It adds that the contract between Facebook and the girl was terminated upon her death, so it could not be passed on posthumously.

In its official guidelines Facebook says when a user passes away it is their policy to memorialize all user's accounts to protect their privacy.

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