Skip to main content

Facebook During Worktime Could Result in Criminal Charges

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."


Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

  • COLGeek
    Some would argue that FB is a "crime against humanity" as well.
  • kingnoobe
    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.
  • bak0n
    Use your cell phone at work for personal business. Problem solved.
  • drdino
    Is... is the world coming to its senses?

    Of course not! Thanks bak0n and kingnoobe.
  • 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.
  • victorintelr
    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......
  • chumly
    In the current world, this is like saying you can't use your phone. How stupid are people?
  • danwat1234
    I'd rather work for Google and work on their autonomous cars
  • southernshark
    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.
  • southernshark
    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.