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Joined: 12 Aug 2013
Age: 45
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03 Jun 2021, 10:47 am


BARRETT, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BREYER, SOTOMAYOR, KAGAN, GORSUCH, and KAVANAUGH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and ALITO, J., joined.

JUSTICE BARRETT delivered the opinion of the Court.

Nathan Van Buren, a former police sergeant, ran a license-plate search in a law enforcement computer database in exchange for money. Van Buren’s conduct plainly flouted his department’s policy, which authorized him to obtain database information only for law enforcement purposes. We must decide whether Van Buren also violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA), which makes it illegal “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.”

He did not. This provision covers those who obtain information from particular areas in the computer—such as files, folders, or databases—to which their computer access does not extend. It does not cover those who, like Van Buren, have improper motives for obtaining information that is otherwise available to them.


For those after a simple overview:
SCOTUS has determined that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 (CFAA) only covers accessing information from a computer system which you have not been authorised to access... If you have been provided access then you cannot be charged under this law, regardless of whether you accessed the items for legitimate or illegitimate reasons (other laws may apply still, though).

Possibly good news for Julian Assange's case... And for whistleblowers around the USA.

The dissent is also quite interesting to read and persuasive in its own way, as well.