Supreme Court Limits Application of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Against Employees Who Abuse Their Network Access Credentials

In a decision handed down yesterday, the Supreme Court held that civil liability under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) does not attach for employees who abuse or misuse their access credentials in accessing their current or former employers’ computer networks.  Rather, to be liable under the CFAA, the employees must access databases or other electronic materials that are outside of their access rights and otherwise off-limits to them.

The Case

The case, Van Buren v. United States, arose out of the actions of a former police sergeant.  The former officer, Van Buren, used his valid login credentials to search his police department database for a particular license plate number in exchange for a bribe, but was caught by an FBI sting operation.  Van Buren was charged with a felony violation of the CFAA—18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2).  An individual is liable under this section (which can carry both civil and criminal penalties) if he “intentionally accesses a computer without authorization or exceeds authorized access.”  The statute defines “exceeds authorized access” to mean “to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter.” 18 U.S.C. § 1030(e)(6).

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The Pennsylvania Supreme Court Strikes Down a No-Hire Agreement as an Unreasonable Restraint on Trade

Recently, in Pittsburgh Logistics Systems, Inc. v. Beemac Trucking, LLC, No. 31 WAP 2019, — A.3d –, 2021 WL 1676399 (Apr. 29, 2021), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found that a no-hire provision that was ancillary to a services contract between two businesses was an unreasonable restraint on trade and was therefore not enforceable. In ruling on this matter of first impression, the Court identified several important factors that employers should consider before entering into a no-hire provision that places restrictions on the movement of their employees.

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Navigating the American Rescue Plan’s Employment-Related Provisions

On March 12, 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) was signed into law, providing an estimated $1.9 trillion stimulus package to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the ARP’s key provisions include a number of employment-related sections that build upon prior legislation to create a scaffold of employer obligations and worker entitlements arising from the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy.

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D.C. Signs Broad Ban on Noncompetes and Anti-Moonlighting Policies

With the issuance of the D.C. Ban on Non-Compete Agreements Amendment Act of 2020 (the Act), the District joins the growing list of jurisdictions subjecting noncompetes to intense scrutiny. D.C.’s Act goes much further though, and once in effect will be one of the broadest limitations on such agreements in the country. While the Act’s precise effective date remains unclear, employers should begin reviewing their existing policies and form agreements now to ensure compliance with the sweeping prohibitions.

For the full alert, visit the Faegre Drinker website.

Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Introduce New Restrictions in Response to Rising COVID-19 Infections

Pennsylvania

On November 17, 2020, Pennsylvania Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine issued two new orders in response to rising levels of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth. These orders (1) place certain restrictions on individuals traveling into Pennsylvania, and (2) provide increased and more detailed requirements related to the use of face coverings in the Commonwealth.

The travel order requires that all travelers entering Pennsylvania from other countries and states, whether a returning resident or a visitor, must have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours prior to entering the Commonwealth. If the traveler cannot obtain a negative COVID-19 test, he or she must quarantine for 14 days upon his or her arrival in Pennsylvania or until he or she obtains a negative COVID-19 test result, whichever is earlier. The travel order takes effect on November 20, 2020. Importantly, this order does not apply to individuals who are travelling to or from Pennsylvania for work or medical reasons.

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Philadelphia Expands Paid Sick Leave During COVID-19

On September 17, 2020, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney signed the Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) bill. The PHEL amends Chapter 9-4100 of the Philadelphia Code to create additional sick leave protections for Philadelphia employees during a public health emergency — specifically COVID-19.

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