Labor Pains: Computer Hacking By Employees


What if a former employee downloads confidential information (customer lists, pricing information, etc.) from your computer system and uses it to lure your customers away? Among the laws at your disposal is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). Although principally a criminal statute intended to combat computer hacking, the CFAA allows a civil lawsuit against someone who obtains information from another’s computer “without authorization.”

Let’s change the scenario slightly. What if a current employee downloads your sensitive business information to his personal computer, resigns, goes to work for your arch-competitor, and then uses that information to pirate your business? Do not count on the CFAA to provide a remedy for that blatant misappropriation. In WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, LLC v. Miller, the federal appeals court with jurisdiction over Maryland, Virginia and other mid-Atlantic states narrowly construed the CFAA in a way that does not always reach even egregious misappropriation by current employees.

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Published In: Business Torts Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, Labor & Employment Updates, Science, Computers & Technology Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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