United States v. Nosal, No. 14-10037 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Defendant conspired with former Korn/Ferry employees whose user accounts had been terminated, but who nonetheless accessed trade secrets in a proprietary database through the back door when the front door had been firmly closed. The court concluded that defendant knowingly and with intent to defraud Korn/Ferry blatantly circumvented the affirmative revocation of his computer system access. This access falls squarely within the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act's (CFAA), 18 U.S.C. 1030, prohibition on access “without authorization.” The court concluded that “without authorization” is an unambiguous, non-technical term that, given its plain and ordinary meaning, means accessing a protected computer without permission. Therefore, the court affirmed defendant’s conviction for violations of section 1030(a)(4) of the CFAA. The court also affirmed defendant's convictions under the Economic Espionage Act (EEA), 18 U.S.C. 1832(a)(2) -(a)(4), for downloading, receiving and possessing trade secrets in the form of source lists from the former employer's database. The court vacated in part and remanded the restitution order for reconsideration of the reasonableness of the attorneys’ fees award.