Can Employees Be Criminally Prosecuted for Violating Their Employer's Computer Policies?

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In California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Arizona, Nevada and Idaho – states covered by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals -- the answer as of yesterday is an emphatic “YES.” In U.S. v. Nosal, 2011 WL 1585600 (9th Cir. April 28, 2011) the court clarified its decision in LVRC Holdings LLC v. Brekka, 581 F.3d 1127, 1131 (9th Cir. 2009) which up until now was considered to be a bar to using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), the federal computer crime statute, against employees who stole their employer’s computer data. This case places the 9th Circuit in sync with the other Circuit Courts that permit the CFAA to be used against employees who steal data from the company computers.

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