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Abstract

Federal jurisdictions are split on the reach of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) in situations where computer-stored trade secrets are stolen by former employees who possessed authorization to access and use the trade secret information. This comment explores both the broad and narrow interpretations of the CFAA. It proposes that courts adopt the broad interpretation, which includes principles of agency law, in order to determine when an employee is “without authorization” under the CFAA. Courts should also adopt the broad interpretation in situations where trade secrets are stolen because an employee is only granted a “limited license” to use and access a trade secret, which defines the parameters of the employee’s authorization. This comment also identifies three different perspectives regarding the inclusion of trade secret misappropriation within the CFAA definition of “damage.” Ultimately, trade secret misappropriation should be included within the statutory definition of “damage” because the secrecy of trade secret information, and its “integrity,” is impaired with every disclosure.

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