Opposition to the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act
Despite the final version being passed by the Uniform Law Commission two years ago, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (“UFADAA”) has not yet enjoyed widespread passage by state legislatures. According to the Uniform Law Commission, to date, UFADAA has only been enacted in one state – Delaware. An additional 26 states introduced legislation to enact a version of UFADAA during the first half of this year, but none of those measures have been passed. As tempting as it may be to lay the blame on the sluggish pace of the legislative process, it’s important to note that UFADAA also faces substantive resistance.
Although much of the commentary surrounding UFADAA, both on this blog and in the estate planning community at large, has been positive, industry and consumer groups have both opposed the act on privacy grounds. For example, letters published by both Yahoo! and a coalition of civil liberties groups have raised concerns that the relatively unfettered access to digital assets allowed by UFADAA goes too far and does not do enough to protect the privacy interests of not only a decedent, but also those who communicated with a decedent during his lifetime. The Internet Coalition, a group that represents the interests of major e-commerce and social media companies, the State Privacy and Security Coalition, Inc., and NetChoice, a group whose goal is to promote e-commerce, have all also opposed UFADAA’s enactment in various states.
NetChoice has gone further than simply opposing UFADAA and has proposed its own alternative to UFADAA – the Privacy Expectation Afterlife and Choices Act (“PEAC”). Rather than providing automatic access to a decedent’s digital assets, PEAC contemplates that the probate court will grant access only upon making certain findings and contains a number of provisions that appear designed to protect the holders of digital assets.
It will be interesting to see whether UFADAA gains more traction during the next legislative session or whether the opposition holds firm. Watch this space for updates.