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U.S. v. Nosal

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
676 F.3d 854 (9th Cir. 2012) (en banc)


David Nosal (defendant) worked for Korn/Ferry International, a corporate executive-search firm. After leaving, Nosal convinced former colleagues to access the company’s proprietary database and send him information to start a competing business. Korn/Ferry had authorized the employees to access the database, but company policy prohibited disclosing confidential information to outsiders. Nosal was indicted on multiple charges, including aiding and abetting Korn/Ferry employees violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) by exceeding their authorized access. Nosal moved to dismiss, arguing the CFAA applied to hackers who accessed data without authorization, not employees authorized to access Korn/Ferry’s computers and database. The court dismissed the CFAA charges. The government (plaintiff) appealed, arguing the statute applied to any use of information that exceeded the employees’ authorized access.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kozinski, C.J.)

Dissent (Silverman, J.)

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