Hawaii lawmaker hopes to protect your digital assets

Hawaii lawmaker hopes to protect your digital assets
Published: Jan. 16, 2015 at 10:28 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2015 at 2:19 PM HST
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State Representative Angus McKelvey, (D)
State Representative Angus McKelvey, (D)
Ryan Ozawa
Ryan Ozawa

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Wills have long protected things like homes and cars after a death, but what about digital assets? That often goes right back to the company leaving beneficiaries left out. It's something lawmakers are looking to change this session.

Money is money. But digital assets are being treated differently when someone dies. For example someone could have thousands of dollars in online currency like Bitcoin, but lawmakers say when you die and it doesn't go to your beneficiaries.

"Tens of thousands of dollars that is now lost. You've bought this Bitcoin currency, you had it to do internet currency and purchases and other exchanges and all of the sudden they die. What's the difference between that and a bank account?" said State Representative Angus McKelvey, (D) House Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee Chair.

State Representative Angus McKelvey plans to introduce legislation that would cover digital assets, not just the currency, but also give family access to apps, photos, files, music, ebooks, even email and social media accounts.

"It's becoming a really big issue and it's becoming more and more everyday as you have this electronic virtual economy that's developing," said Rep. McKelvey.

"It's completely the wild west right now. There is no real knowing how that is going to be handled. There are certainly no laws because it has no national origin. I think we're still trying to figure that out," said Ryan Ozawa, Hawaii Information Service.

Tech executive Ryan Ozawa agrees digital asset protection is a real concern. Although it's a slippery slope because what if the deceased didn't want his email or social media accounts shared with their relatives?

"A lot of people I think would say after I'm gone I want that stuff to be gone," said Ozawa.

"That's an unanswered question and that's why having this bill introduced and having this discussion is going to be really key because these are all of the questions that need to be asked," said Rep. McKelvey.

As if death wasn't already difficult enough to talk about, get ready to dig up details on your digital death.

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