Can WeChat, Alipay, virtual currency, etc. be inherited?

  What about digital heritage in the Internet age?

  In Internet buzzwords, there is a joke: "You must be trying to laugh me to death, so as to inherit my emoticon/huabei..." Behind the joke, a series of problems are reflected: after a person passes away, QQ, What will happen to WeChat, Weibo, Alipay accounts, etc.?

Where does the massive data files such as personal accounts and email messages go?

How to deal with personal digital heritage in the Internet age?

  Digital estate written into a will

  In recent years, with the widespread popularity of the mobile Internet, more and more people have begun to pay attention to their digital information in the virtual space, and discussions about backing up personal digital assets have been repeatedly raised.

  Last year, a "post-90s" e-sports player wrote his digital assets such as Alipay and game accounts into his will, which sparked heated discussions online.

In 2018, a German couple legally obtained the right to inherit the social media Facebook account of their deceased daughter, which received widespread attention.

In 2009, a judicial case of digital heritage inheritance occurred in China, which was to determine the ownership of game equipment worth 50,000 yuan left in online games by the deceased.

  In fact, as early as 2003, UNESCO clearly stated in the "Charter for the Preservation of Digital Heritage" that digital heritage is a unique knowledge and expression of mankind. Personal information on the Internet includes texts, databases, photos, software, web pages, etc. , Are all digital heritage.

  Dong Yizhi, a lawyer at Shanghai Zhengce Law Firm, said in an interview with our reporter that digital heritage can be roughly divided into three categories, one is social platform accounts and information released, and the other is tied to traditional properties such as bank cards. Accounts with certain payment functions, in addition to virtual assets such as Bitcoin.

Different types of digital heritage have different characteristics, and they should be treated separately according to specific circumstances.

  Pan Helin, executive dean of the Institute of Digital Economy at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, told our reporter that how to deal with digital heritage is actually a question of who owns the digital assets left on the Internet.

Thinking from the legal concept, the essence of data assets should include two kinds of rights, namely "personality rights" and "property rights".

In the Internet age, personality rights represented by personal information can bring considerable economic benefits to subjects, and property rights are directly related to data assets. Therefore, how to inherit the corresponding rights is before people.

  Looking forward to relevant laws and regulations

  Now that the disposal of digital heritage has received such attention, how do some major network platforms currently deal with it?

  The relevant person in charge of Alipay said that the customer's money in Alipay belongs to the customer. Even if the user dies, the platform will strictly abide by the relevant regulations, and will keep the money and the income generated for the user until the heir to withdraw it.

The inheritors can redeem products such as Yu'ebao, funds, insurance and other products purchased through Alipay.

Correspondingly, if there are debts such as huabai, borrowing, etc., they also need to be borne together.

  Similarly, for digital heritage of physical property, each platform can inherit the legacy of the deceased as long as relatives provide ID cards, relationship certificates, death certificates, letters of commitment, etc., and submit them to the official customer service.

So, for account information that focuses more on spiritual meaning, the law has not yet clearly stipulated, how does the platform handle it?

  Take QQ and WeChat accounts as examples. The right to use the account belongs only to the initial application registrant. Gifts, borrowing, renting, transfer or sale are prohibited, and the ownership belongs to Tencent. If the registered account is not logged in or used for a long time, Tencent has The right to recycle the account.

  Recently, Sina Weibo issued the "Announcement on Protecting the'Dead Account'", stating that to protect the privacy of the deceased and prevent the deceased's account from being stolen, Weibo will set a protection status for the deceased's account, that is, it cannot log in, post or delete content.

The relatives of the deceased can log in after obtaining the information of the deceased's Weibo account, but posting, reposting, commenting, liking, and following will be restricted.

  Dong Yizhi said that many platforms implement temporary community regulations. In the future, national laws and regulations will be subject to national laws and regulations after the introduction of relevant laws and regulations on online accounts and digital properties.

  Balancing inheritance and privacy

  In the newly promulgated "Civil Code · Inheritance" in May 2020, the original "Inheritance Law" has deleted the enumeration type definition of the scope of inheritance, and changed it to a general form-"Inheritance is the legal personal property left by a natural person upon death".

  "According to this definition, the digital assets we use daily such as Alipay, game currency, knowledge payment accounts, social media accounts, shopping coupons, etc. are all included." Pan Helin said, "but in actual implementation, there may be many Unresolved issues. For example, which digital assets can be inherited, to whom ethical privacy information should be inherited, etc., we need to constantly explore in practice."

  Pan Helin believes that, on the one hand, it is necessary to comprehensively improve the personal data security protection system, strengthen market supervision, and use cloud computing, Internet of Things, 5G and other new technology integration methods to collect, transmit, store, process, exchange, and destroy data. Effectively ensure safety throughout the life cycle.

On the other hand, there is an urgent need to establish a data asset property rights system to solve the data property rights contradictions of people in the digital economy era.

  Some experts said that in the inheritance of digital heritage, there are still real dilemmas such as legislation that needs to be improved, network service agreements exclude inheritance rights, and conflicts with privacy rights and communication secret protection. It is necessary to formulate a reasonable inheritance path and basic procedures for digital heritage, and clarify digital heritage legalization The scope and order of the heirs, as well as determining the boundaries of the heirs' exercise of digital heritage rights, and balancing the conflicts between inheritance rights and privacy rights and the protection of communication secrets.

  Many legal professionals said that due to the privacy and concealment of digital heritage, making a will is more conducive to family inheritance.

Recourse to the law is the last way to solve the problem of digital heritage inheritance. To reduce disputes over digital heritage inheritance, we can start with encouraging individuals to manage digital heritage during their lifetime.