Florida Computer Fraud & Abuse Lawyer
Intellectual Property and Trade Secret Protection Attorneys Handling Computer Civil Liability Claims in Florida
Theft of trade secrets or other intellectual property or confidential information can severely damage a business. Computer crimes aren’t only performed by hackers in other countries infiltrating networks and mail servers. Employees within a company may access unauthorized computers or go beyond their authorized access to steal valuable information or damage internal systems.
These activities are crimes that may be prosecuted by law enforcement, but the laws also provide civil liability and money damages for violations of the federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act or the Florida Computer Crimes Act (Chapter 815 of the Florida Statutes). For help with questions of liability under these laws in Florida, contact an experienced Florida computer fraud & abuse lawyer.
What is Computer Fraud & Abuse?
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it a crime to intentionally access a protected computer. The law also authorizes a civil lawsuit for damages. A protected computer is defined as a computer exclusively for the use of a U.S. government financial institution, a computer used by or for a financial institution or the U.S. government that affects its use, or a computer which is used in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce or communication, including a computer located outside the U.S. that is used in a manner that affects interstate or foreign commerce or communication of the United States.
Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, one can be liable for committing any of the following acts:
- Knowingly accessing a protected computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, obtaining protected information or restricted data to the injury of the U.S., willfully delivering or attempting to deliver information obtained, and failing to return information to the U.S.
- Intentionally accessing a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access and obtaining financial information, information from a department or agency of the U.S., or information from a protected computer
- Intentionally accessing a nonpublic computer of a U.S. department without authorization that affects its use by the government
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud accessing a protected computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access and furthering that intended fraud
- Knowingly causing the transmission of a computer program, information, code or command without authorization and intentionally causing damage to a protected computer
- Intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and recklessly causing damage
- Intentionally accessing a protected computer without authorization and causing damages and loss
- Knowingly and with intent to defraud trafficking in any password or similar information through which a computer may be accessed without authorization that affects interstate commerce or a computer used by the government of the U.S.
- Transmitting with intent to extort money or other thing of value a communication which contains a threat to cause damage to a protected computer, a threat to obtain or impair information from a protected computer without authorization or in excess of authorized access or a demand or request for money or other thing of value in relation to damage to a protected computer
Damage Caused by Computer Fraud and Abuse
People who commit computer fraud or abuse as described above can be civilly liable for damages caused whenever their activities cause any of the types of harm described below:
- Loss in any one year aggregating at least $5,000 in value
- Modification or impairment or potential modification or impairment of a medical examination, diagnosis, treatment or care of another
- Physical injury to another person
- A threat to public health or safety
- Damage affecting a computer used by or for an entity of the U.S. government in furtherance of the administration of justice, national defense, or national security
- Damage affecting 10 or more protected computers during a one-year period
How do the Attorneys at Perkins Law Help with Computer Fraud and Abuse Cases?
Computer fraud and abuse is a complicated area of the law, whether dealing with federal or Florida state law. There are many different potential offenses and a number of elements that must be analyzed in any alleged offense. For instance, did the alleged perpetrator have the requisite intent to impose liability? Did the person “exceed authorized access” to a computer? Can loss or damage be proven as required by law?
The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act has a two-year statute of limitations from the date of the act or the date of discovery of damage to hold the actor accountable. The law also clearly states that there should be no action for negligent design or manufacture of computer hardware, software or firmware. These are just some of the many complex and technical features of the law which require the assistance of qualified and competent legal counsel on which to advise and represent you.
Contact a Florida Computer Fraud & Abuse Lawyer
Infecting a computer system with a virus, destroying data, or theft of data involving trade secrets or confidential information are just some of the many causes for a civil action for compensatory damages, including an award of attorney fees to the prevailing party in a Florida-based claim. If you need help navigating this complicated area of the law and understanding your rights, contact the knowledgeable and experienced Florida computer fraud & abuse attorneys at Perkins Law for a consultation on your needs.