The Secure Times

An online forum of the ABA Section of Antitrust Law's Privacy and Information Security Committee

Authorized Computer Access By Employee Not CFAA Violation, Despite Intent To Misuse Information

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A departing employee, who copied client files while still having full access to his employer’s computers, did not "exceed authorized access" under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), despite the defendant’s improper use of the files and alleged breach of company policy.  Brett Senior & Assoc. v. Fitzgerald, No.06-1412, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50833 (E.D. Pa. July 13, 2007). The court granted summary judgment to the defendant on the CFAA and related state claims, but let stand the breach of fiduciary duty claim for the plaintiff’s telephone solicitation of clients while he was still in the plaintiff’s employ. The court found that the defendant could not be liable under the CFAA because there was no allegation that the defendant lacked authority or "exceeded authorized access" to view any information in the plaintiff’s computer system. The court rejected the plaintiff’s argument, based upon the Seventh Circuit opinion in International Airport Centers, L.L.C. v. Citrin, 440 F.3d 418 (7th Cir 2006), that an employee exceeds his authorized access when he obtains company information for an allegedly improper purpose.



Author: ABA Antitrust

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