Jonathan Blavin on the Impact of Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Ruling

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorney Jonathan H. Blavin published an article in the Daily Journal on July 13, 2016 about the impact of a decision issued by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit related to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), which requires that defendants have “knowingly ... access[ed] a protected computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access” in order to face prosecution.

Mr. Blavin described the second phase of United States v. Nosal, a case in which the government charged David Nosal, a former director of an executive search firm, with violating the CFAA after he downloaded information from his firm to launch a competing company. In 2012, the en banc court upheld a decision dismissing several counts from the case.

Mr. Blavin noted that the Ninth Circuit panel’s finding was consistent with the approach taken by other circuits, concluding “that given its ordinary meaning, access ‘without authorization’ under the CFAA is not ambiguous” and that “[i]mplicit in the definition of authorization is the notion that someone, including an entity, can grant or revoke that permission.”

Nosal II promises to have a continuing effect on the contours and scope of the CFAA,” Mr. Blavin wrote.

Mr. Blavin is a litigator in the firm’s San Francisco office. His practice focuses on high-technology intellectual property disputes, Internet and privacy-related litigation involving the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, among others, and consumer class actions.