April 23, 2013 Articles

Decisions Highlight Split in Application of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

Should the act be construed broadly or narrowly?

By Thomas A. Dye

Trade secret claims have historically derived from state common law causes of action and, subsequently, most states’ adoption of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, which codifies that common law and generally proscribes the misappropriation of trade secrets. In recent years, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. § 1030, has been used to invoke federal jurisdiction and to raise the specter of criminal, as well as civil, liability for “unauthorized access” to a “protected” computer, even where the trade secret misappropriation elements could not be met.

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