Ohio State Representative Introduces Digital Assets Legislation

Current state law is unclear as to what happens to a person’s Facebook, Twitter, DropBox and other accounts upon that person’s death. This legislation aims to fix that.

by Craig Kelly, The Lima News, Ohio / October 17, 2016
How digital assets are managed after death would be altered by pending legislation in Ohio. Shutterstock

(TNS) — COLUMBUS, Ohio — A local state legislator is working to address a uniquely 21st-century issue.

Ohio House of Representatives

Rep. Bob Cupp, R-Lima: On Thursday, Cupp introduced legislation to provide a framework for determining what happens to a person’s digital assets, such as Facebook, Twitter, Dropbox and other accounts, upon that person’s death. Currently law is unclear when it comes to this issue.

This bill, according to Cupp’s office, would give Ohioans “the ability to maintain control of their digital assets and to enable better communication between Internet service providers, their subscribers and the subscribers’ next of kin. The bill would provide estate fiduciaries (executors, administrators and surviving spouses) authority to access these digital assets in the same way they have access to tangible property, unless the deceased person has otherwise provided.”

“In today’s world when many Ohioans post photos, comments, and personal communications online, it is important to ensure that our laws provide for after-death access to these treasures or otherwise fulfill the maker’s wishes,” Cupp said. “I am pleased to sponsor this legislation, in coordination with the Ohio State Bar Association, to ensure a person’s online assets are properly handled after a person’s death.”

Companion legislation is also being considered in the Ohio Senate.

Ohio Senate

Sen. Keith Faber, R-Celina: On Thursday, Faber met with faculty, staff and students at Edison Community College’s Darke County campus to celebrate the launch of the college’s new agribusiness program. The college had received $1.8 million in state capital funds this year for improvements and renovations.

“I’m grateful for the investment Edison State is making in Darke County,” Faber said. “Because of their vision and leadership, educational opportunities are being created that mirror the economic needs of our community. I’m particularly excited about the launch of their new agribusiness program. It’s a testament to the partnership between our local schools, businesses and government to equip Ohioans with the tools they need to be successful.”

U.S. House of Representatives

Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green: On Thursday, Latta, along with Ohio Auditor Dave Yost, met with local stakeholders in Defiance to discuss Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, covering the recent audit conducted by Yost’s office revealing structural weaknesses in the program.

“Preserving the integrity of the SNAP program is important so that taxpayers know that their money is not being abused, and those truly in need can access the program,” Latta said. “The audit performed by the Auditor’s office has shined a light on potential issues with the application of the program, and today’s discussion was insightful. As Congress begins to prepare the next Farm Bill, it is vital to hear from those on the ground about ways to improve the program.”

Latta also met with local stakeholders in Defiance to discuss the impact of the Internet of Things on agriculture, including the connection of physical devices, such as vehicles and buildings, to the Internet.

“The Internet of Things has the potential to be a game-changer for a number of industries and agriculture is one that can reap the benefits,” Latta said. “Hearing from farmers about how they are currently using IoT, and the challenges they face in implementing it, is very helpful as we pursue policies that will help this technology grow. Whether it’s making it easier to maintain equipment, improving planting and harvesting efficiency, or growing crop yields, IoT can be very helpful to the agricultural community.”

U.S. Senate

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio: Speaking as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Brown released a statement Friday following an announcement from Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office that the state would suspend dealings with Wells Fargo Bank after the bank was found to have used fraudulent practices with their customers, including using forced arbitration to prevent defrauded customers from pursuing legal action, according to Brown’s office.

“Wells Fargo cheated customers, and until it lays out concrete steps to make things right, it doesn’t deserve the State of Ohio’s business,” Brown said.

Brown also announced plans to introduce legislation to give Wells Fargo customers the pathway to seeking legal action against the bank.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: On Wednesday, Portman praised a ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court saying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cannot constitutionally operate as an independent agency since it has a single director rather than a multi-member board.

“In 2013, I expressed concern that the CFPB’s vast power is vested in a single director who is not removable at will by the President, and I am pleased that the D.C. Circuit has ruled that such an arrangement is unconstitutional,” Portman said in a statement. “This decision is a win for our constitutional system of checks and balances, which is an essential protection of individual liberty. I’m glad that the court recognized what I have called for since 2013, robust oversight to ensure the CFPB accurately represents the will of the people.”

©2016 The Lima News (Lima, Ohio) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.