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Facebook During Worktime Could Result in Criminal Charges

By - Source: SSRN | B 23 comments

Forget slander. Your simple presence on Facebook during your work time may be considered a federal crime.

According to a paper published in the American Business Law Journal, that the use of Facebook could be considered a case of exceeding authorized access in the workplace, and violate a workplace policy.

That circumstance may develop into a much more serious case and apply to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) as breaking workplace policy would also breach a contract and the duty of loyalty. As a result, an employee could be liable both civilly and criminally.

The paper states that the emergence of social networks blur the lines of the CFAA. "Acts of employee disloyalty have traditionally been the province of contract and tort law, with employers suing disloyal employees for misappropriation of trade secrets, conversion, unfair competition, and tortuous interference with a business expectancy." However the cases brought forward under CFAA claims have been increasing sharply and "the courts have struggled to determine the extent to which the CFAA is an appropriate vehicle for holding disloyal employees accountable in both civil and criminal contexts" the paper reads.

While the CFAA traditionally has been applied in hacking charges, the authors note that there are now cases in which employers claim that "employee had violated the CFAA by checking Facebook and sending personal email in violation of company policy." In their example, the claims were dismissed by the court, but it was highlighted that the current version of the CFAA and claims being made by employers "illustrate the potential for misuse or abuse of the statute." They court stated that the government would be unlikely "to pursue minor violations", but "we shouldn’t have to live at the mercy of our local prosecutor."

The authors of the paper agreed and wrote that "it is best to limit its function to [external and internal hacking] and leave the misappropriation of confidential information to laws specifically tailored to that end."

 

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  • 19 Hide
    kingnoobe , December 13, 2012 3:18 PM
    O give me a break.. Using FB is a far cry from hacking, leaking info, and anything of that nature. At best/worst it can show lazy workers, but that's far from a criminal offense. But what about the people that do their jobs and simply get done ahead of schedule and have a little bit of downtime?

    Sure facebook maybe used to leak info, but so could a simple email and anything of that nature. And if being lazy is a crime all politicians should be thrown in jail.

    Hating to hate is the cool thing to do these days right. BAHHH BAHHH BAHHH.
  • 16 Hide
    COLGeek , December 13, 2012 3:06 PM
    Some would argue that FB is a "crime against humanity" as well.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 13, 2012 3:39 PM
    Companies that don't want there employees to use websites like facebook should implement blocking on the firewall so that they can't go out to Facebook. The company itself should take some responsibility if they are not blocking access to those sites through their servers.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    COLGeek , December 13, 2012 3:06 PM
    Some would argue that FB is a "crime against humanity" as well.
  • 19 Hide
    kingnoobe , December 13, 2012 3:18 PM
    O give me a break.. Using FB is a far cry from hacking, leaking info, and anything of that nature. At best/worst it can show lazy workers, but that's far from a criminal offense. But what about the people that do their jobs and simply get done ahead of schedule and have a little bit of downtime?

    Sure facebook maybe used to leak info, but so could a simple email and anything of that nature. And if being lazy is a crime all politicians should be thrown in jail.

    Hating to hate is the cool thing to do these days right. BAHHH BAHHH BAHHH.
  • 11 Hide
    bak0n , December 13, 2012 3:21 PM
    Use your cell phone at work for personal business. Problem solved.
  • 2 Hide
    drdino , December 13, 2012 3:35 PM
    Is... is the world coming to its senses?

    Of course not! Thanks bak0n and kingnoobe.
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , December 13, 2012 3:39 PM
    Companies that don't want there employees to use websites like facebook should implement blocking on the firewall so that they can't go out to Facebook. The company itself should take some responsibility if they are not blocking access to those sites through their servers.
  • 1 Hide
    victorintelr , December 13, 2012 3:43 PM
    really....... I didn't understand well the article if it's just for using it, or using it to trade company secrets, the latter one would be understandable, but if it's just for using it, that's ridiculous......
  • -1 Hide
    chumly , December 13, 2012 4:21 PM
    In the current world, this is like saying you can't use your phone. How stupid are people?
  • 4 Hide
    danwat1234 , December 13, 2012 4:22 PM
    I'd rather work for Google and work on their autonomous cars
  • 1 Hide
    southernshark , December 13, 2012 4:24 PM
    At one time in our formerly great nation, people understand that there was contract law/tort law and then there were criminal laws. And things worked GREAT. Today though the contract is enforced by the Government, not by the laws of capitalism. And the nations falls.

    Oh well, I don't live there anymore. It is sad to see though. I'm glad that I don't pay taxes for any of that crap though.
  • 0 Hide
    southernshark , December 13, 2012 4:24 PM
    victorintelrreally....... I didn't understand well the article if it's just for using it, or using it to trade company secrets, the latter one would be understandable, but if it's just for using it, that's ridiculous......


    They are basically proceeding under a "theft of services" type analysis. No different in their mind from say a waiter stealing napkins at work.
  • 0 Hide
    Star72 , December 13, 2012 4:52 PM
    In my particular workplace, an fairly large automotive supplier, Facebook is blocked from use on any of the computers. From what I understand it's for security & the fact that it disrupts work because people use it way too much.
    Sadly many people just use their phones to access it & still end up disrupting their work, despite company rules that forbid use of cell phones during work hours except while on your scheduled breaks.
  • 2 Hide
    southernshark , December 13, 2012 5:00 PM
    Star72In my particular workplace, an fairly large automotive supplier, Facebook is blocked from use on any of the computers. From what I understand it's for security & the fact that it disrupts work because people use it way too much. Sadly many people just use their phones to access it & still end up disrupting their work, despite company rules that forbid use of cell phones during work hours except while on your scheduled breaks.


    Well the Government has the solution, prosecute them, build more prisons and hire more cops. We need special taskforce to deal with these people.

    Use of FB at work is a form of terrorism!!!! Lets get the Department of Homeland Security on this.
  • 0 Hide
    kyzarvs , December 13, 2012 5:02 PM
    So, as an employer I should pay you £40, £50, £60 an hour to update your status on FB?

    Sorry, no. Everyone in my organisation has signed an IT policy that agrees social networking access, other than out of hours and at lunchtime (when we open the firewall up automatically) is a disciplinary offense, no matter how it is achieved. You choose FB over working, I choose not to pay you.
  • 0 Hide
    whoobydo , December 13, 2012 5:03 PM
    I don't think targeting Facebook is the answer. Wasting time on Facebook should be against company policy, but a person could leak trade secrets just as easily via text message, multimedia message (pictures, video, or audio), google voice, email, etc. Legislation should apply to any sharing of trade secrets, no matter the method of communication.
  • 1 Hide
    blurr91 , December 13, 2012 5:08 PM
    southernsharkWell the Government has the solution, prosecute them, build more prisons and hire more cops. We need special taskforce to deal with these people. Use of FB at work is a form of terrorism!!!! Lets get the Department of Homeland Security on this.


    Nonsense! Let's establish another unelected and unconfirmed czar to head the Bureau of Cyber Security, where he would be free to set "guidelines" for the nation's computer using habits.
  • 0 Hide
    MarioJP , December 13, 2012 5:22 PM
    I guess, I mean i could see Facebook could present a problem in the workplace as this individual is not paying to his/her job. But a federal offense.. Really??. Sides when one goes on their breaks what would be first thing that person will do?? Take out his smartphone and on Facebook.

    People shouldn't be using Facebook during their shift anyways, that's the problem right there.
  • 0 Hide
    madjimms , December 13, 2012 5:30 PM
    southernsharkAt one time in our formerly great nation, people understand that there was contract law/tort law and then there were criminal laws. And things worked GREAT. Today though the contract is enforced by the Government, not by the laws of capitalism. And the nations falls.Oh well, I don't live there anymore. It is sad to see though. I'm glad that I don't pay taxes for any of that crap though.

    America was doomed from the beginning.... Democratic Republics always end up failing, it was just a matter of time.
  • -2 Hide
    f-14 , December 13, 2012 5:48 PM
    Quote:
    "There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws...you create a nation of law-breakers and then you cash in on guilt."
    Ayn Rand

    "The job of bureaucrats is to regulate, and left to their own devices, they will try to regulate everything they can."
    Steven den Beste
  • 1 Hide
    f-14 , December 13, 2012 5:50 PM
    Quote:
    "Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
    Ronald Reagan (1986)
  • 1 Hide
    millerm84 , December 13, 2012 6:47 PM
    If you're that gun-ho against people using social media here's a though; block the sites.
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