With 9-2 Ruling, Circuit Narrows Scope of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Posted in: Legal & Security at 12/04/2012 14:01

In a highly anticipated test of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit narrowly construed the anti-hacking law Tuesday in a 9-2 opinion, saying prosecutors can't use it to go after someone who checks sports scores from a work computer or fibs on Facebook. The case involved the former employee of an executive search firm accused of having colleagues access a confidential database to get information for his new competing business.

Don't worry: it's not illegal to read this article at work.

In a highly anticipated test of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit construed the law narrowly Tuesday, saying prosecutors can't use it to go after someone who checks sports scores from a work computer or fibs on Facebook. The 1984 law is an anti-hacking statute, not a tool to make federal criminals of anyone who violates employer computer policies or a website's terms of service, the en banc panel said in a 9-2 opinion in U.S. v. Nosal, 10-10038.

"The government's construction of the statute would expand its scope far beyond computer hacking to criminalize any unauthorized use of information obtained from a computer," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski wrote for the majority. "This would make criminals of large groups of people who would have little reason to suspect they are committing a federal crime."
http://www.law.com/jsp/ca/PubArticleCA.jsp?id=1202548590609

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