Should parents be able to access their dead children's data? Watch

ThomH97
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In 2017, a 14-year old Molly Russell killed herself. Recently in the news has been her father suspecting that posts and communities on social media may have contributed to her decision to end her life. He wants to see what she was looking at in the hope of understanding his daughter's decision, and also potentially preventing the same thing happening to other kids.

However, in trying to access this data, he has come up against several difficulties. The part where I wholeheartedly agree with him is with Instagram, and other social media companies not releasing him the data. I would have thought that, as guardian/next of kin etc, he would be able to get all data on his daughter in the same way she would have been able to under GDPR. That's aside from all her data being visible to her friends anyway so there's no breach of trust there to compile it all for her parents.

On the other hand, he also has mentioned Apple's security on their phones being too secure for them to crack. Apple have effectively sold an impenetrable nuclear bunker that Molly chose to lock so nobody else could get in. I don't think Apple and other companies should be made to deliberately weaken the security so they (and hence, other people) can get in.

What do you think regarding parents and their kids' data? Should a guardian be permitted to the same GDPR rights as the children they are responsible for? Should all devices and software have a 'secret' exploit for companies to use in the event of a death to get a user's data?
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Decahedron
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No.

Unless the data is required by an inquiry or law enforcement it should be protected from all prying eyes.

There is no such thing as a "secret" exploit because it will get in the wrong hands eventually.
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Blue_Cow
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(Original post by Decahedron)
There is no such thing as a "secret" exploit because it will get in the wrong hands eventually.
Unfortunately, our politicians can't seem to grasp this simple concept. Really is quite worrying.

Heck, you even get some who claim "real people" don't need E2E encryption and regularly bash the technology companies for supposedly not doing more to help government.
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Decahedron
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(Original post by Blue_Cow)
Unfortunately, our politicians can't seem to grasp this simple concept. Really is quite worrying.
And ironically they are all using Whatsapp now because of its excellent security. The mind boggles.
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Blue_Cow
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(Original post by Decahedron)
And ironically they are all using Whatsapp now because of its excellent security. The mind boggles.
One rule for them and another for us, I suppose.
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Rainfall
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I would want to. But I don’t want anyone having access to my phone and finding out all my secrets. Cause then they’d be happy I was dead
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Libtardian
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If he looks in the mirror he'll have found his answer.
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Doonesbury
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As a parent I can understand why he wants this...

Maybe he should send the phone to that Israeli security outfit.

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Jono*
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yes to parents being able to access their dead child's data, but no to weakening the security and adding loopholes, only the companies themselves should be able to change the associated email addresses of the accounts when specially requested by the parents, they can then go forgot password and recover the account... without the need to weaken the security
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Doonesbury
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(Original post by Jono*)
yes to parents being able to access their dead child's data, but no to weakening the security and adding loopholes, only the companies themselves should be able to change the associated email addresses of the accounts when specially requested by the parents, they can then go forgot password and recover the account... without the need to weaken the security
Hmm, that's an elegant idea but sounds too easy... I'm not techie enough to know how practical it is for FB/Apple to change an associated email??
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Acsel
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(Original post by ThomH97)
Should a guardian be permitted to the same GDPR rights as the children they are responsible for?
Under GDPR, businesses are required to do more to protect children. This goes both ways. On one hand, there are limits on what children can consent to. It's not an easy thing to verify of course. But default GDPR states 16 as the age of consent, although member states can adjust this as necessary. I don't remember what the UKs stance on this is, as I remember issues around grooming and sexual exploitation when the age is moved to 16. But in this scenario she was 14, so a parent/carer should be somewhat involved based on default GDPR.

The other side of this is that children's data needs to be well protected. GDPR states parental consent must be given under a certain age but doesn't necessarily say that parents are entitled to the data. Allowing someone to use Facebook and having direct access to everything they do are not the same thing. I certainly don't think a parent should have totally unrestricted access and it's not unreasonable that children want some privacy.

It's worth noting as well that this took place in 2017, when GDPR wasn't in force. No matter what happens, it isn't subject to new laws.

(Original post by ThomH97)
Should all devices and software have a 'secret' exploit for companies to use in the event of a death to get a user's data?
No, absolutely not. Being able to access the data should not be a result of a hidden exploit, but a perfectly legitimate and open method. The obvious caveat is that it reduces security. Apple are fundamentally doing the right thing here, as every iPhone should not be compromised in order to access the very small number that may be involved in terrorist activity or child deaths. It's also worth noting that this security is not impenetrable. The police/government no doubt regularly examine iPhones with methods that aren't available to the public (for good reason). The dispute in 2016 is another example of this. The main difference is justifying the cost involved with accessing the device. The 2016 case involved terrorism, whereas this was a child suicide. I'm not saying one isn't important, but the terrorist incident is clearly far more time restricted and justifies the extreme cost that may be necessary to access the device.

However this is a good example of taking security too far at the expense of usability. I'm not going to say that Apple is wrong, but their behavior results in devices that are not accessible when they really need to be. There comes a point where security starts encroaching on functionality and Apple is walking that line. Security needs to be balanced, not blindly implemented with no thought for the repercussions.
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999tigger
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Have to think about it, but I think so as they had parental responsibility and she was still a child.
Maybe they should just get a court order and a judge should consider it.
The tech companies may go on about security, but they are known to frustrate the police and it can take years to gain access even in the case of crime. It is in their interest to be difficult and say no as its cheaper from them to have to deal with requests.

As Doones said just take it to the Israelis.
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Doonesbury
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(Original post by 999tigger)
As Doones said just take it to the Israelis.
Apparently they charged the FBI USD900k

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Doonesbury
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If she had a MacBook too I bet all her passwords are in the Keychain, (probably) protected by a relatively simple overall password.

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Acsel
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(Original post by 999tigger)
they are known to frustrate the police and it can take years to gain access even in the case of crime.
What makes you think that?
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SoulfulTwist
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As a child, no
As a parent, yes
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Doonesbury
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(Original post by SoulfulTwist)
As a child, no
As a parent, yes
Indeed.

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999tigger
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(Original post by Acsel)
What makes you think that?
Because its the truth, this has been in the news quite a lot and there was a program on it about how obstructive google, apple and facebook are. The UK police were interviewed about it and they were complaining how it took years and they had hundreds of requests for access for data concerning ongoing criminal investigations and it wasnt happening. They want legislation.

I have a feeling it was from around the time the FBI couldnt access that Iphone.
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Notoriety
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I dunno if they'll like what they'll see, so maybe they should be protected from it.
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jameswhughes
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(Original post by Jono*)
yes to parents being able to access their dead child's data, but no to weakening the security and adding loopholes, only the companies themselves should be able to change the associated email addresses of the accounts when specially requested by the parents, they can then go forgot password and recover the account... without the need to weaken the security
You either have security or you don't. There's no middle ground "security but we'll only let the right people in" as this would quickly lead to the wrong people getting through.
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