Taking hold of Alison Atkins's digital afterlife forced her family to tread a line between celebrating her, and invading her privacy. In the process, they discovered some dark journals Alison clearly meant to conceal. "She had passwords for a reason," says her sister. Asked if she felt Alison had a right to privacy, her mother says she doesn't believe so. "She was my child. I felt I had a right to know."
Alison Atkins, 16, from Toronto, died on 27 July. Her family wanted to access Alison's digital remains: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc - accounts that were her lifeline when illness isolated her at home. But using Alison's passwords violated some of those websites' terms of service, and possibly the law. Current laws, intended to protect the living, fail to address a separate question: who should see or supervise our online legacy?