Category Archives: Computer and Internet Use

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U.S. Supreme Court Case Preview—Van Buren v. United States: Does Use of a Computer for an “Improper Purpose” Violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

For the first time, the Supreme Court has agreed to review the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). The Court’s initial review of the CFAA comes in the wake of a federal circuit split as to whether the statute can only be deployed against hackers and unauthorized users of electronic systems, or also against authorized … Continue Reading

National Labor Relations Board Signals That It May Leave Purple Communications Black and Blue

On August 1, 2018, the National Labor Relations Board (“Board”) issued a Notice and Invitation to File Briefs, inviting the public to file briefs on whether the Board should overrule its 2014 decision in Purple Communications, Inc., 361 NLRB 1050 (2014), in which the Board held, absent special circumstances, employees who have been given access … Continue Reading

Employers Beware! Employees are Permitted to Use Employer’s Email Systems for Non Work Purposes, Including Union Organizing

Overturning existing precedent, the NLRB has ruled that certain employees have a right to use employer email systems for protected communications, unless special circumstances exist. This decision potentially has far-reaching implications and all employers who allow employees to access their email systems should promptly review their policies and practices in light of this decision.… Continue Reading

An In-Depth Analysis of the NLRB’s Decision to Permit Employees to Use Employer Email Systems for Union Organizing and Other Non-Work Purposes

The rights of employees under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act have been given quite the digital treatment over the last few years.  In its newest decision issued on December 11, 2014, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that “employee use of email for statutorily protected communications on nonworking time must presumptively be … Continue Reading

Federal Jury Finds Executive Recruiter Guilty Stealing Trade Secrets From Former Employer In Order to Start Competing Business

On April 24, 2013, a federal jury in the Northern District of California found former Korn/Ferry International corporate executive recruiter, David Nosal, guilty on six counts of conspiracy, stealing trade secrets, and violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”). An appeal is expected, however.… Continue Reading

Cyberattacks a mounting challenge for employers

This article was originally published by the Daily Journal. By Paul Cowie and Dorna Moini In a recent panel discussion, one of the speakers was a so-called “ethical hacker” – a hacker-turned-protector of employers’ confidential information. As someone at the forefront of cyberattacks, the ethical hacker’s opinion was that there are two types of employers: those that know … Continue Reading

Legal Issues Surrounding Social Media Background Checks

By Michelle Sherman Agatha Christie had a novel take on invention being the mother of necessity. She disagreed and said, “[I]nvention, in my opinion, arises directly from idleness, possibly also from laziness. To save oneself trouble.” She may have been onto something when you think about businesses that are turning to outside vendors to research … Continue Reading

NLRB Requires Employer to Rehire and Provide Backpay to Employees Terminated for Derogatory Comments Made About Co-Worker on Facebook

By Tina Rad & Gregg A. Fisch In a first-of-its-kind ruling, on September 2, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) required an employer to rehire five workers it had fired after the workers posted comments about a co-worker and their employment with the company on Facebook. As part of its decision, an Administrative Law Judge … Continue Reading

Social Media Activity In The Workplace And The Computer Fraud And Abuse Act

It should come as no surprise that employers are trying to assert a claim for violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) based on employees accessing social networking sites such as Facebook from work computers. While one employer was unsuccessful in stating a claim, employers should not give up on opportunities to assert … Continue Reading

The Ninth Circuit Clarifies Application Of The Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Favorably For Employers

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) may now give employers some teeth to enforce a well-crafted computer use policy. The CFAA punishes anyone 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 … Continue Reading

“Belongs To The Company” Means Exactly That

In Holmes v. Petrovich Development Company, plaintiff Gina Holmes sued her former employer for sexual harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, violation of the right to privacy, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Using her Company computer, Holmes had sent emails to her attorney in which she discussed her employment situation and how she felt she was … Continue Reading

Employers Need To Be Careful To Avoid Waiving The Protections Of Written Computer And Email Policies

Many employers have written policies stating that the computers, blackberries, and other electronic devices are owned by the Company; that the Company reserves the right to review all emails, text messages, and so on that are sent on Company equipment; that employees should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality when using these resources; and … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Affirms Importance of Electronic Privacy Policies and Practices

On January 30, 2007, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of United States v. Ziegler (no. 05-30177), an appeal by a man convicted of various child-pornography charges.  In deciding this case, the Zieglar court affirmed the importance of an employer’s policies and practices regarding employees’ right to privacy in their workplace computers … Continue Reading

California Court Of Appeal Holds Employers Immune For Employee’s “Cyberthreats”

Employers never seem to get a break from having to play the role of parent or "big brother" to their employees in an effort to minimize the risk of liability for their employees’ actions.  Monitoring the conduct of employees on the Internet is no exception and can constitute a large part of employee oversight because … Continue Reading

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