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Non-Compete and Trade Secrets Blog

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Federal courts have continued to disagree on whether the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act ("CFAA") applies to employees who misuse confidential information or trade secrets obtained from an employer's computer system that the employee was authorized to access. In Florida, and particularly in the Middle District, the large majority of district courts to consider the issue have followed the "narrow" view that an employee who has been granted access to ...

There is an ongoing debate in the courts over whether the federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (“CFAA”) applies in the context of departing employees who are at odds with their former employers. A recent opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit may be seen by some as adding to debate.

Federal courts are split over whether the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act applies to a faithless employee’s misappropriation of an employer’s confidential information by means of the employer’s computer. A California federal court recently held that an employee's access to such a computer is not "unauthorized" for purposes of the CFAA even if the employer's policies preclude such conduct.

Federal courts continue to debate whether the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act applies to the misappropriation of an employer’s electronic trade secrets by departing employees. In a recent criminal case, one more court sided with employees -- and against the U.S. Government -- when it held that the CFAA does not apply in this context.

Since the addition of civil remedies in 1994, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1030 (“CFAA”), has evolved into a potentially powerful claim in the departing employee context. The likelihood of success on CFAA claims against departing employees, however, varies by jurisdiction. Recently, numerous courts have debated, and issued divergent rulings, on the enforceability of CFAA claims against departing employees. The debate often focuses on the statute’s “without authorization” or “in excess of one’s authorization” requirement.

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