The Afterlife of Data: What Happens to Your Information When You Die and Why You Should Care

Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2024. 200p. ISBN 9780226828220. $22.50. TECH
Öhman (political science, Uppsala Univ., Sweden; coauthor, The 2018 Yearbook of the Digital Ethics Lab) examines the historical, philosophical and sociological aspects of how people currently exist online before and after their death. His book reminds readers that before there was social media, when a person died, there was little left behind except perhaps memories, belongings, photographs, and written text. Today, social media profiles and other online postings have the potential to live on indefinitely. He questions who has the right to decide what happens to personal data and those digital footprints. He presents different scenarios that range from private companies (Meta, X, and more) to a governmental agency responsible for archiving and preserving digital material. But he argues that digital data of the deceased should concern the living, especially when it comes to determining who or what entity handles them and how. His book includes helpful notes, a bibliography, and an index.
VERDICT Best for readers curious about artificial intelligence, internet history, ethics, or sociology.
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