Ossian Law P.C. IT Alert: April 16, 2014

Court Strikes CFAA Claim As Untimely: The federal Computer Fraud & Abuse Act (“CFAA”) prohibits fraud and other harmful acts committed by accessing a computer. The CFAA contains a two-year statute of limitations, beginning on “the date of the act complained of or the discovery of the damage.” Recently, a federal court in Idaho considered whether a CFAA claim was timely filed.

In 2007, plaintiff Mitchell Electric became a franchisee of defendant Mr. Electric. Plaintiff was thereafter permitted to use Mr. Electric’s ZWARE software. In August 2009, plaintiff experienced problems with its computer system and even asked defendant about the problems. Plaintiff then hired a forensic investigator, who issued a report on November 5, 2009.

In its complaint, filed on November 4, 2011, plaintiff alleged that “[d]efendant had utilized the ZWARE software to gain unauthorized access to [plaintiff’s] computers” and claimed that defendant violated the CFAA. Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the CFAA claim as untimely, asserting that plaintiff knew of the “damage” as early as August, 2009. Plaintiff responded that its CFAA claim did not accrue until November 5, 2009 when it received the forensic investigator’s report detailing the damage to its computers.

The court dismissed the claim, holding that “the CFAA requires a plaintiff to file suit within two years of discovering any impairment to the integrity or availability of data, a program, a system or information.”

Read the court’s opinion here

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