Court Holds That Using Facebook at Work Does Not Violate the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act

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The debate rages on concerning the scope and extent of the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act. In simple terms, the CFAA makes it unlawful to access a protected computer without authorization (or in excess of one's authorization) and to damage the computer or obtain information that one is not entitled to obtain. Originally a criminal statute, the CFAA also provides for a civil claim if certain conditions are met. Courts have long debated whether the statute applies in the context of an alleged faithless employee who accesses an employer's information contained on a computer for an improper competitive purpose. Regardless of the varied judicial opinions addressing this point, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently rejected as "dubious" a somewhat novel argument that an employee violated the CFAA by accessing Facebook and her personal email at work. (A copy of the Court's opinion is available in pdf format below.)

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