If You Violate Your Employer’s No-Personal-Use-of-Workplace-Computers Rule Have You Committed a Crime?

Read this article on that topic by Stephanie Greene and Christine O'Brien. Here is the abstract:

If you
spend time at work checking Facebook or shopping online you might be
violating your employer’s computer policy. But you might also be
committing a federal crime. For the past decade or so, courts have
disagreed over the scope of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Some
courts have found that an employee who violates a workplace policy,
breaches a contract, or breaches a duty of loyalty to his employer may
be both civilly and criminally liable under this Act. Computers provide
new opportunities for distraction at work; they also provide
opportunities for dishonest behavior. While some behavior is clearly
criminal, it is not always clear what type of behavior should be
criminal under the Act, particularly as social norms about workplace
habits and computer use are constantly evolving.

This article
focuses on the variety of ways courts construe the Computer Fraud and
Abuse Act which criminalizes some types of access to computers,
detailing how courts continue to struggle with an accepted
interpretation of what is, and what is not, criminal. A recent highly
anticipated case, the Ninth Circuit’s en banc United States v. Nosal
decision, reflects this discord. In a 9-2 decision, the court held that
the ambiguous criminal statute should be given limited applicability
because its general purpose is to punish hacking rather than acts such
as misappropriation of confidential information. The decision expresses
concern that a broad interpretation of the statute would criminalize a
range of acts we all engage in on employer networks. The Ninth Circuit’s
interpretation creates a notable split of opinion with the First,
Fifth, Seventh and Eleventh circuit courts of appeal. More recently,
the Fourth Circuit followed the reasoning of the Ninth Circuit’s narrow
interpretation theory thereby furthering the division of opinion on this

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