Protecting your online memories: A local mom has a message for others


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Protecting your online memories: A local mom has a message for others

By Tim Meulemans, Courtny Gerrish. CREATED Jul 17, 2014

EAST TROY - Jenny Kuznicki planted a garden for her daughter Shanna. It helps her keep the good memories alive.

There is a video online of Shanna and her friends. The video is painful to watch--because it's the last thing her daughter did. "I said, 'If the weather changes I want you to come home. And she said 'Well we're only going to Walmart' and 'I love you', and that was the last words I heard from her."

On the way to Walmart the car Shanna and her friends were in skidded across a snow-covered road, hitting another car. All three were killed. Since that day, Jenny has been thankful for the video of her daughter still posted on the internet.

"I look at it like at least we have something and they were all together and they were all happy," she says.

But she's not the only one with access to that video. One day Jenny Goggled her daughter's name. What she found high on the list was a website dedicated to gore, and a link to her daughter's video.

"Oooh I was mad," Jenny recalls.

Jenny calls the website disgusting, and doesn't want her daughter's memory associated with it. "My first instinct as a mom was, 'OK, I got to see what I can do about this because this isn't right. You can't do this to the kids."

Jenny tried to contact Google and YouTube. No luck. We reached out to the guy who runs the website. He never responded.

Kelly Dancy is an estate attorney with Walny Legal Group in Milwaukee. She explains, "Really, the law does not provide a whole lot of protection for assets once you put them out there."

Dancy isn't surprised by what Jenny is going through. As an estate attorney she sees this a lot. Her best advice? Plan ahead.

"Make a list of those assets. So, not only where they are but also how to have access to them whether that's username or passwords. How to get into email that might link to these sights," Dancy suggests.

When it comes to the law, only 7 states legislate 'digital assets'. These laws allow access by a representative of the deceased, especially in the case of minors. Wisconsin is not one of them.

Jenny is going to fight for that kind of protection. She says, "He's taking something that badly happened, and it's the last thing that I have of them that is happy, and turning it to sadness and grief all over again. It's not right."

The attorney we talked to warned with the internet you can't rely on the law to help. Technology changes so fast, the law can't keep up, even in states with legislation.

Here in Wisconsin committees are discussing the issue, but so far no bill has been drafted.