October 19, 2021

Volume XI, Number 292

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October 18, 2021

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New Decision Narrows Scope of Georgia Computer Trespass Statute

The Georgia Supreme Court recently concluded that Georgia’s equivalent of the CFAA should be viewed narrowly, similar to the US Supreme Court’s recent, similar decision in Van Buren. In Kinslow v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court held that even if there is unauthorized use of a computer or computer network, there must be enough evidence to prove that the defendant used the computer network knowingly without authority and with the intention of obstructing or interfering with the use of data.

The court acknowledged that in the case at hand, the defendant lacked authority when he altered his employer’s computer network settings in such a way that his supervisor’s emails were forwarded to defendant’s personal email address. However, there was not enough evidence to prove that the defendant had the intention to obstruct or interfere with the flow of data in the form of emails, as the supervisor still received emails that were intended for him. The court went through a deep analysis of each of the elements of the statute. Applying the canons of construction, it found that there must be evidence of the intention to obstruct and interfere, which was lacking in this case. As a result, the court overturned the defendant’s felony conviction under Georgia’s computer trespass law.

Putting It Into Practice: This case shows that the scope of state computer trespass/fraud statutes may be narrowed, similar to the narrowed scope of CFAA.  As we noted following the Van Buren decision, companies should think about regularly auditing and updating access rights to their IT systems.

Copyright © 2021, Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 190
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About this Author

Liisa Thomas, Sheppard Mullin Law Firm, Chicago, Cybersecurity Law Attorney
Partner

Liisa Thomas, a partner based in the firm’s Chicago and London offices, is Co-Chair of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice. Her clients rely on her ability to create clarity in a sea of confusing legal requirements and describe her as “extremely responsive, while providing thoughtful legal analysis combined with real world practical advice.” Liisa is the author of the definitive treatise on data breach, Thomas on Data Breach: A Practical Guide to Handling Worldwide Data Breach Notification, which has been described as “a no-nonsense roadmap for in-house and...

312-499-6335
Snehal Desai, attorney, Sheppard Mullin
Attorney

Snehal Desai is an associate in the Intellectual Property Practice Group in the firm's San Francisco office. She is a member of the Privacy and Cybersecurity Team, the Advertising Team and the Technology Transactions Team.

Areas of Practice

Advertising: Snehal advises clients in conducting advertising campaigns, contests and sweepstakes, and brand marketing campaigns. 

Technology and Commercial Transactions: Snehal drafts and negotiates...

415-774-2960
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