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U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument on When Employee Misuse of Work Computers May Constitute Criminal Conduct

On December 23, 2020 by Schnader in Criminal Defense

Scott J. Wenner and Mana Kinoshita published a client alert, “U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument on When Employee Misuse of Work Computers May Constitute Criminal Conduct.”

The United States Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Van Buren v. United States, No. 19-783. The Court granted certiorari last term to resolve whether a person – in particular, an employee – who is authorized to access information on a computer for certain purposes violates the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) if he/she accesses the same information for an improper use.

It is always risky to “read the tea leaves” after observing the Justices respond to advocates. However, most Justices appeared dubious of the Government’s position in this case, both because the language of the CFAA does not seem to support the wide breadth it advocated and because of the discretion the Government’s view gives to prosecutors at a time when the Court has not looked kindly on similar grants of broad discretion.

Click here to read the full client alert.