Wright’s the right guy

Published 7:41 am Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Dear Editor,

We need Tommy Wright’s continued experience in the General Assembly. Waiting to find something that benefits all is more Tommy Wright’s style than padding a legislative resume.

In 2013 Tommy introduced HB 1752 with chief co-patron David Bulova (D) of Northern Virginia. The bill was designed to allow parental access to a deceased minor child’s digital accounts.

The back story is long and painful. Diane and myself, after losing a child to suicide, searched for answers everywhere. We were thwarted by red tape.

Not anymore.

The Federal Trade Commission gives all online companies the ability to interact with 13-year-olds without parental permission with identical rights and benefits of adults. Strange but true. Prior to the 2013 session I asked Tommy for his help sponsoring something to draw attention to this travesty.

He pledged his support and advised the odds for passage were long. At a committee meeting, I sat on the second row while several sharply dressed gentlemen came in and began to talk strategy against the bill. It hurt.

In just moments, the chairman of the committee directed all parties to negotiate a plausible solution. In the hall, all the sharply dressed men said this was a federal issue for congress to handle.

Tommy had enough of the banter. While shaking his finger, he told them to find a solution or he would pursue the present language.

He walked away. At that moment the walls became less ominous for families as the foes began to compromise.

Facebook nearly immediately upon passage of HB 1752 amended its policy to allow access to deceased minor accounts. Google has instituted an account manager that allows appointing a fiduciary. Facebook has since followed suit, allowing an opt-in approach allowing access upon death for those over 18.

There is more to the story than can be expressed in a letter of support. But the firmness of leadership exhibited by Tommy Wright has led to billion-dollar companies invoking many positive changes.

HB 1752 gives parents a legal right to their children’s electronic accounts that is now law.

A small-town man in the heart of Southside Virginia who sent seismic shockwaves all over America deserves our vote.

Ricky and Diane Rash