remote workOn November 30, 2020, the Supreme Court held oral argument in Van Buren v. United States to determine the scope of criminal liability under the Federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030.  The court’s decision may resolve a circuit split and have far-reaching implications for the scope of civil and criminal liability under the CFAA.  The key point of dispute under the CFAA is whether a person “exceeds authorized access” of a computer (1) only by accessing the computer as an unauthorized person, or (2) more broadly by using the computer for unpermitted uses, even when otherwise permitted to access the computer.  The First, Fifth, Seventh, and Eleventh Circuits have broadly interpreted “exceeds authorized access” to cover access that takes place for an improper purpose, whereas the Second, Fourth, and Ninth Circuits have narrowly interpreted unauthorized access to require a lack of any authorization.  For example, under the broad interpretation at dispute before the Supreme Court, an employee who is authorized to access a work computer to carry out certain tasks for employment may still be liable under the CFAA if the employee uses the office computer to download confidential information for non-employment purposes.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument to Address Circuit Split under the CFAA