The Champion

Sept-Oct 2013 , Page 44 

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Digital Defense: Meeting the Challenges That the Computer Fraud And Abuse Act Poses

By Timothy P. O’Toole

In this digital age, computers are everywhere, from the time people wake up in the morning until the moment they fall asleep at night. And for defense lawyers, the predominance of computers has extended not only to their day-to-day practices but even to the cases they handle, which increasingly involve allegations brought under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This law, codified at 18 U.S.C. § 1030, was originally a narrow one, focused on the computer “hacking” that targeted important long-standing federal interests, such as national security, financial records, and government property.1 But Congress has broadened the statute five times in the past 30 years, with the result being an expansive and vague law that “potentially regulates every use of every computer in the United States and even many millions of computers abroad.”2 

The ever-broadening scope of this law has given rise to the two classic problems associated with vague statutes: (1) arbitrary and discr

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