US Supreme Court rejects broad reading of computer fraud laws

The US Supreme Court has issued its decision in Van Buren v. United States (19-783) ruling that  someone authorized to use a computer system does not violate the law when accessing data for an improper reason.

Van Buren, a police officer, used his patrol-car computer to access a law enforcement database to look up a license plate number in exchange for money. He was charged with a felony violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), for intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access.

The US Supreme Court has overturned Van Buren’s conviction and provided an opinion on access to a computer stating that it is a crime only if users access information they were not entitled to obtain. The wide reading of law would, according to the US Supreme Court, ‘attach criminal penalties to a breathtaking amount of commonplace computer activity.’