What the Dickens: post-mortem privacy and intergenerational trust

Burkhard Schafer, Jo Briggs, Wendy Moncur, Emma Nicol, Leif Azzopardi

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2 Citations (Scopus)
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The paper argues that protecting post-mortem privacy is not solely beneficial for the deceased and their relatives but enables intergenerational data-sharing. However, legal approaches alone are unlikely to generate the trust required and need to be supplemented with tools that assist data subjects in controlling what data they risk sharing more efficiently and, which they prefer to delete. Using the example of Dickens' “Bonfire of letters” as an example, we argue that the main challenge for law and digital technology is the cumulative risk of data breadcrumbs, which are likely to be individually harmless. Based on research within the EPSRC project “Cumulative Revelations of Personal Data”, we discuss how our findings indicate possible avenues to assist in more efficient intergenerational data sharing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105800
Number of pages9
JournalComputer Law and Security Review
Early online date2 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2023


  • cumulative disclosure
  • data legacy
  • data protection
  • post-mortem privacy
  • privacy


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  • Everyday digital traces

    Armstrong, A., Briggs, J., Moncur, W., Carey, D. P., Nicol, E. & Schafer, B., 31 Dec 2023, In: Big Data & Society . 10, 2, p. 1-13 13 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Open Access
    23 Downloads (Pure)

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