Proposal / Submission Type

Peer Reviewed Paper

Location

Burlington, Vermont

Start Date

21-5-2009 1:00 PM

Abstract

One of the most unanticipated results of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act arose from the law of unintended consequences. The CFAA was originally enacted in 1984 to protect federal government computers from intrusions and damage caused by hackers, identity thieves, and other cyber criminals. The law was later amended to extend the scope of its application to financial institutions’, business’s and consumers’ computers. To aid in the pursuit of cyber criminals, one of the subsequent revisions to the law included provision “G” that gave the right to private parties to seek compensation for damages in a civil action for unauthorized computer intrusions. This amendment to the law has had the unintended consequence of bolstering, or in some cases supplanting, claims against employees and former employees for claims such as trade secret violations, intellectual property violations, and violations of covenants not to compete. This amendment has also aided employers in their defense of employee claims of sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and other claims by facilitating counterclaims against employees and former employees for computer misuse. This paper examines these developments in the law and likely unintended consequences of the original amendments to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Keywords: computer, fraud, intellectual property, law

 
May 21st, 1:00 PM

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Law of Unintended Consequences

Burlington, Vermont

One of the most unanticipated results of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act arose from the law of unintended consequences. The CFAA was originally enacted in 1984 to protect federal government computers from intrusions and damage caused by hackers, identity thieves, and other cyber criminals. The law was later amended to extend the scope of its application to financial institutions’, business’s and consumers’ computers. To aid in the pursuit of cyber criminals, one of the subsequent revisions to the law included provision “G” that gave the right to private parties to seek compensation for damages in a civil action for unauthorized computer intrusions. This amendment to the law has had the unintended consequence of bolstering, or in some cases supplanting, claims against employees and former employees for claims such as trade secret violations, intellectual property violations, and violations of covenants not to compete. This amendment has also aided employers in their defense of employee claims of sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and other claims by facilitating counterclaims against employees and former employees for computer misuse. This paper examines these developments in the law and likely unintended consequences of the original amendments to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Keywords: computer, fraud, intellectual property, law