Apple ordered to hand over iCloud content to parents of deceased son

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What you need to know

  • An Italian court has ruled Apple must help the parents of a boy killed in a car crash by recovering his iCloud account and its digital content.

A Civil Court in Milan, Italy, has ruled that Apple should help the parents of a boy killed in a car crash last year to recover his iCloud account.

As reported by Corriere Della Sera and spotted by setteBIT:

To whom does a dead man's digital legacy belong? And can web giants, such as Apple, act as sovereign states in demanding certain requirements to refuse or grant the possibility of inheriting that online life now part of a person's identity? For the first time in Italy, the Civil Court of Milan urgently orders Apple to provide the parents of a boy, who died in a car accident a year ago, with the recovery from his accounts of his son's digital contents, perished on the phone destroyed in the clash but synchronized online (and therefore recoverable) on the "cloud-cloud" of the company. (Translated)

The lawyers of the boy's parents said that they were "destroyed by grief" and that they had tried to explain to Apple that they wanted to see their son's photos and videos from his mobile phone, which was destroyed in the accident, to "try to fill at least part of the sense of emptiness". They also wanted to see the recipes saved on the phone, (the boy was a chef), and collect them in a project dedicated to his memory.

Apple had denied the request, invoking the need to protect third parties like contacts of the boy, and the safety of its customers. They had also asked the parents to "equip themselves with a number of legal pre-requirements" including being agents of the deceased and having "legitimate consent" as defined by the country's Electronic Communications Act.

A judge disagreed however and stated that the link between parents and children and their desire to keep his memory alive was enough to be considered "legitimate interest" required by EU law.

The report echoes a story from Austria last year.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9