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Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Peter J.G. Toren

©2017. Published in Landslide, Vol. 9, No. 5, May/June 2017, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

Ronald Reagan was in his second term as president of the United States. Out of Africa won the Academy Award for best picture. The space shuttle Challenger exploded just after launch from Cape Canaveral, killing all eight on board. The New York Mets beat the Red Sox in the World Series in seven games, extending to 86 years the last time the Red Sox had won the World Series. President Obama was in his second year of law school. And Congress enacted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) as an amendment to an earlier computer fraud law1—before commercial e-mail was available for the general public and prior to the advent of text messaging and downloadable applications. Much has changed in the last 30 years, but the CFAA remains the primary statute used to prosecute hackers.

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