Checking Facebook at Work Isn’t a Crime

It isn't a federal crime, anyway.


A U.S. appeals court ruled that employees who check Facebook or send personal email that violate company policy aren't committing a federal crime.

The court's decision came Wednesday in a lawsuit where federal prosecutors charged a former Korn/Ferry International employee, David Nosal, with stealing trade secrets and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act -- by taking company information to start a competing business, according to Bloomberg News. Prosecutors were appealing the decision because a lower court threw out the computer fraud charges.

“Minds have wandered since the beginning of time and the computer gives employees new ways to procrastinate” though workers are rarely disciplined for such conduct, wrote Judge Alex Kozinski for a majority of appeals court judges in San Francisco. “Under a broad interpretation of the CFAA, such minor dalliances would become federal crimes.” 

The judge cited a case in Florida where an employer countersued an employee for violating CFAA because she checked her Facebook account and sent personal emails at work, something he said wasn't considered a federal crime.
“The decision leaves intact the ability of the government to prosecute someone for getting into a computer they don’t have permission to get into,” Dennis Riordan, Nosal's attorney, told Bloomberg News. “What it prevents from happening is people getting prosecuted from watching March Madness at work.” 
Although most of us didn't think checking Facebook at work was a federal crime, it's nice to know that now it really isn't one.
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