His friends had proper and authorized access to internal information at the company, but he was charged several times with various crimes including violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act based on obtaining information from a company for personal use. Because of a motion he and his lawyer filed to dismiss these charges, the issue became complex enough to be considered for dismissal by the Circuit Court.
The specific stipulation regarding his situation involved obtaining information from a company. According to the Act, a person must obtain information by accessing a protected computer or network without authorization for misuse. This usually involves hackers. Because he had his friends obtain the information, the actions did not contain unauthorized access or surpass valid access to the material. He was not a hacker either but a private citizen that no longer worked at the company. He obtained this information in order to start his own business that competes with the one he left. The Circuit Court dismissed the charges dealing with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to these stipulations of unauthorized access not being part of his actions. This dismissal of these specific charges went against three other Circuit Courts, but it was important as the precedent may allow violations of private computer use a federal crime in the United States.
Similar Cybercrimes and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
A similar instance occurred with a company employee accessing customer personal data through the use of her own employee computer despite the restrictions. She used this material for committing acts of fraud. This was charged with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act due to her surpassing authorized access to a computer with the intent to obtain or steal data for a criminal act of any kind. The specific stipulation applied was in direct line with what she did even though she was working for the company at the time. The access was authorized, but it was restricted for customer interactions only.
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act allows for civil litigation when damages accrued are of at least $5000 during one year of activity. This may even be in affect when stealing or obtaining information. One such case included someone that obtained information from a password-protected network before leaving the company. The information taken involved financial reports of customers, pricing, the cost of products and profits over a period of time for customers of the business. This person then violated a confidentiality agreement he signed that restricts his actions and attempted to entice these customers to a competitor of the company at which he used to work. He also attempted to dismiss the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act charges because he had authorized access to the information and did not surpass his authority to view and download the data. His dismissal was denied due to the limits already placed on the information he obtained through the document he signed.
Stipulations in Place
Jurisdiction is important to regard when examining and determining if there is unauthorized use of confidential information that may be accessed through computers. These may be specifically stated in a state or civil case within the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Usually, the access of undisclosed information of a private system may be in excess of $5000 in damages. That allows states and counties to pursue action when this unauthorized access is completed in any one year against those committing computer and internet crimes. This could allow a court to prevent the further misuse or access of the data that was stolen or obtained.
Trade Secrets, Intellectual Property and Proprietary Information
Federal and State crimes of theft of trade secrets have specific statutes applied against those stealing the information. This could be from employees that have taken the data, but the items must be classified as trade secrets, proprietary documentation or similar files that give some type of advantage over other competitors. Laws are also in place to allow prosecution of theft or appropriation of intellectual property. It is important to obtain a lawyer for any of these crimes being accused of any single person. Any type of computer and internet crime may be laid at the hands of someone other than the perpetrator.