By now, most employers are aware of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that establishes a claim for civil damages for “intentionally access[ing] a protected computer without authorization, and as a result of such conduct, caus[ing] damage and loss.”

Employers increasingly have used this statute to go after employees who take the employer’s proprietary information when they go to work for a competitor or who delete or destroy data kept in the employer’s computer database. Although the Act has many technical requirements, most courts, with the notable exception of a recent federal appellate decision out of California, have recognized its use in these employee departure situations, and it has proven an effective litigation tool.

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