U.S. v. Nosal

9th Circuit Opinion


EFF urged a federal appeals court to dismiss charges that would turn any employee use of company computers in violation of corporate policy into a federal crime.

In U.S. v. Nosal, an ex-employee is being prosecuted on the claim that he induced current company employees to use their legitimate credentials to access the company's proprietary database and provide him with information, in violation of corporate computer-use policy. The government claims that the violation of this private policy constitutes a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). Following a decision issued just last year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the district court ruled against the government, holding that violations of corporate policy are not equivalent to violations of federal computer crime law. The government appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

In an amicus brief filed in the case, EFF argued that turning mere violations of company policies into computer crimes could potentially create a massive expansion of the CFAA, turning millions of law-abiding workers into criminals.

In April 2011, a three-judge panel ruled that an employee violates the CFAA when she uses a computer in way that violates an employer's restrictions. In June, EFF filed an amicus brief in support of Nosal's petition for rehearing en banc.

Please see full opinion below for more information.

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Published In: Criminal Law Updates, Labor & Employment Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

Reference Info:Decision | Federal, 9th Circuit | United States