DC and Iowa District Courts Take Opposing Views as to Whether Employees Are Liable Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

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In American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hollander, 2010 WL 2851639 *1 (N.D. Iowa, July 20, 2010) the court denied the defendant employee’s motion for summary judgment on the Computer Fraud and Abuse (“CFAA”) claim. The plaintiff claimed Hollander, “anticipating terminating his relationship with plaintiff, accessed and used plaintiff’s computer database to aid himself in competing with plaintiff.” The court held “that a defendant may act "without authorization" or "exceed authorized access" even when he has permission to access the protected computer, but then uses that information in a manner inconsistent with the plaintiffs interests, where the defendant intended to use that information in that manner at the time of access.” Id.

About a week later a District of Columbia federal district court in Lewis-Burke Associates LLC v. Widder, 2010 WL 2926161 *3-*5 (D.C. July 28, 2010) followed LVRC Holdings LLC v. Brekka, 581 F.2d 1127, 1131 (9th Cir. 2009) to hold that an employee who stole confidential and proprietary information from the company computer could not be sued for violating the CFAA because, as an employee, he had the right to access the company computer.

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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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