Scene: Snappy dozes at her laptop. Across the table, Bitey sips from a LavAzza cup. Slurps, really. Yet it doesn't wake Snappy. So Bitey clears his throat. Snappy straightens. She yawns.
Snappy: Curse you. Can't you see. Can't you see my slumber. Your crudeness has chased it. Caught it. Made it depart. Dang. And why has my screen gone blank?
Snappy: Speak up.
Bitey: Someone back in the States, I can't say who, may perhaps have possibly cut off your access to the firm's webernet.
Snappy: And why might someone have done that?
Bitey: My mind, although often a blank, this time tells me it Must Mean we have suffered a Breach of Security.
Snappy: You grow less tedious. Tell me more.
Bitey: Well, if you MUST know. The Home Office just broadcast a warning about a Now Former Employee. The NFE took some stuff off our Extremely Secure computer network system and used it to induce a customer to switch to the NFE's new outfit.
Snappy: Do you mind if I do some knee bends while you go on about this?
Bitey: Of course not. So. We seem to have sued the NFE for doing bad.
Snappy: Bully for us.
Snappy: Don't try my patience, Bitester. I have the power to exclude you from, among other places, the Uffizi.
Bitey: Say no more. We did the suing in federal court. Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030.
Snappy: And? Reflect that you may never see the Doni Tondo again.
Bitey: We lost. Not on the merits. But because the CFAA doesn't cover things like theft by people who work for you.
Snappy: Explain. Because I feel pretty sure the Seventh Circuit said just the opposite in Int’l Airport Ctrs., LLC v. Citrin, 440 F.3d 418 (7th Cir. 2006).
Bitey: Well. The whole dispute seems to turn on what "so" means.
Bitey: Right. The statute gives you the right to sue for damages if someone does hurtful stuff with a computer "without authorization". And it defines "exceeds authorized access" as "to access a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser is not entitled so to obtain or alter."
Snappy: Do go on in that charming ditzy way you have.
Bitey: It all boils down to what "not entitled so to obtain or alter" means.
Snappy: True that.
Bitey: Really it comes to what "so" signifies.
Snappy: Now you have riveted me.
Bitey: The Fourth Circuit held that "so" doesn't mean anything, really. WEC Carolina Energy Solutions, LLC v. Miller, No. 11-1201 (4th Cir. July 26, 2012).
Snappy: So our NFE could steal our stuff under CFAA so long as he or she had authorization to go into our computer system in the first place?
Snappy: That rots. Although I must say that our friends in Congress should have said that they wanted to bar your run of the mill trade secret theft more clearly if indeed they desired that.
Bitey: May I buy you an espresso, Snappy?
Snappy: How about some grappa. I could use some grappa just now.