Why employers shouldn’t rely too heavily on the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to enforce violations of computer use policies

By Melody B. Lynch

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), (1) was enacted by Congress in 1986 as a vehicle to deter computer hackers by both handing out tough criminal penalties and establishing a civil remedy for computer-related offenses. The CFAA has been amended and fine-tuned on several occasions, including the most recent amendments in 2008. Over the past several years, employers have latched on to the CFAA, not only for the stated legislative purpose of deterring third parties from unauthorized access of computer systems, but more routinely to enforce computer use policies against rogue or departing employees.

This article examines a sampling of the myriad decisions brought by employers against employees under the CFAA and provides suggestions to employers about when to deploy the CFAA in litigation against an employee and when to utilize other arrows in the employment law quiver to achieve the employer’s desired objective. To read this article in full click here

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