An appeals court in Berlin has recently ruled that a mother cannot gain access to her daughter’s Facebook account. Following the girl being killed by a train in 2012, the mother attempted to gain access to her daughter’s Facebook account to determine whether the incident was deliberate or accidental. Facebook refused to provide access to the girl’s account, citing the girl’s privacy rights.
A court in Berlin had initially ruled that the mother has the right to gain access to the girl’s account, citing the fact that she was a minor when she was killed, and that Germany’s law on inheritance suggests the girl’s contract with Facebook are transferred to her mother. Furthermore, as she was a minor, the mother has a duty of care over her and this means that she should be allowed to have access to the account.
However, the appeals court later ruled against the initial decision, arguing that the girl’s right to privacy superseded the mother’s parental rights. In addition, blocking access to the girl’s account would ensure the confidentiality of those she communicated with. The decision is best understood in the context of Germany’s aversion to surveillance, and with the understanding that Germany has one of the strictest privacy laws in Europe.
It is understood that the mother is likely to appeal the decision of the appeals court.