Dec 102011
 December 10, 2011  Posted by  Breaches, Court, Featured News, Laws

Ginny LaRoe has a helpful article on the upcoming rehearing en banc of United States v. Nosal , a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case that asks whether violating an employer’s computer use policy is a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a law that started life as an anti-hacking statute.

A few years ago, Bay Area federal prosecutors took up a white-collar case that wasn’t particularly sexy, indicting a handful of employees of an executive recruiting firm who had tapped an internal database to get information to start a competing business. The U.S. attorney’s office quickly cut deals with two of the lower-level employees before indicting its main target, David Nosal, an executive at Korn/Ferry International, charging him and a woman named Becky Christian with a slew of crimes, including trade secret theft.

And they invoked the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the 1980s anti-hacking statute.

What started as a routine prosecution stemming from an employment dispute has turned into a heated battle — with national implications — over civil liberties in the digital age. At oral argument on Thursday, an en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will sort out whether the CFAA allows for the federal prosecution of employees who so much as check a ballgame score on a work computer or fib on Facebook in violation of a terms of use agreement.

Read more on Nosal’s petition for rehearing en banc can be found here.

Image credit: © Eric Broder Van Dyke |

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