Thursday, April 12, 2012

Facebooking at work is not a federal crime — even when forbidden

Updating your Facebook status from your work computer — even if it violates your company's policy — isn't a federal crime, according to a ruling by a San Francisco federal appeals court.

Sure it sounds extreme that such a question was even pondered by a federal court. But Facebooking and similar computer-based goldbricking could've been considered a violation of the the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) if the San Francisco's Ninth Circuit didn't dismiss "charges that would have criminalized any employee's use of a company's computers in violation of corporate policy," notes the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
In (U.S. v. Nosal), the government prosecuted an ex-employee of an executive recruiting firm on the theory that he induced current company employees to use their legitimate credentials to access a proprietary database and provide him with information in violation of corporate computer-use policy. The government claimed that the violation of policy constituted a violation of the CFAA, a law with criminal penalties.
While the case isn't specifically focused on Facebook, the ruling is another example of how the government is increasingly sucked into the conflict between how we earn a living and how we use the world's largest social network. Earlier this week, Maryland became the first state to pass a bill prohibiting employers from demanding employee user names and passwords to Facebook and other social networks. In March, two U.S. senators asked federal agencies to look into whether employers and colleges that are asking for access to individual Facebook profiles are breaking the law.

More at Technolog.

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