Asked by: Rong Jie Loo, Malaysia
Each company that stores the data may have a different policy. If the person was paying a subscription to a website to store their data, then once the subscription expires, the data will probably be deleted. For free sites, anything can happen. For example, Yahoo! refused to hand over emails of a deceased son to his parents, despite being ordered to do so by a court.
However, Facebook has a policy to change the deceased person’s profile into a memorial page, if a family member notifies the company. Friends and family can then visit the page to share their experiences, express their sadness, and celebrate the life of the person.
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.