Tuesday, September 18, 2007

10th Circuit decision (unpublished) on the phrase "anything of value" in the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. § 1030) provides a private civil cause of action against one who "knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value" (there are other required elements as well). In Triad Consultants, Inc. v. Wiggins, No. 07-1007 (10th Cir. Sept. 17, 2007) , it was alleged that fired President and COO (Wiggins), who was required by agreement to return all Triad property, unsuccessfully tried to get a third-party to restore a back-up tape of Triad computer data into a useable format.

The 10th Circuit held that Triad failed to state a claim because the "complaint set forth a sequence of facts showing that [Wiggins] never obtained any information from the tapes." Accordingly, "[b]ecause Triad alleged no facts showing that Wiggins accessed the information on the tape, it cannot establish one of the elements of a claim under § 1030(a)(4), that Wiggins obtained "anything of values." The court rejected the argument that the tapes themselves had intrinsic value, because "value is relative to one's needs and objectives," and if Wiggins couldn't use the information on the tapes, then they had no value to him.

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