“Authorization” in the Context of Computer Crimes

I previously wrote a blog post about North Carolina’s computer-related crime statutes. Two of our computer crimes are accessing computers under G.S. 14-454 and accessing government computers under G.S. 14-454.1. Both statutes prohibit willfully accessing computers for the purpose of committing fraud or obtaining property or services by false pretenses. Both statutes also prohibit unauthorized access to computers, regardless of fraudulent intent. G.S. 14-453 defines authorization as having the consent or permission of the owner—or of the person licensed or authorized by the owner to grant consent or permission—to access a computer, computer system, or computer network in a manner not exceeding the consent or permission. I’ve gotten several questions recently about the scope of unauthorized access under these statutes, and today’s post examines how these laws may be applied.

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Update on Unauthorized Access to a Computer

As I noted in a previous post, it is a crime under G.S. 14-454(b) “willfully and without authorization . . .  [to] access[] . . . any computer.” I posed a few scenarios in that earlier post, including one in which a judge tells a law clerk not to use the internet during business hours … Read more

Unauthorized Access to a Computer

What does it mean to access a computer without authorization? It’s an important question. North Carolina’s computer crime statutes appear at G.S. 14-453 et seq. Among other things, the statutes make it illegal “willfully and without authorization . . . [to] access[] . . . any computer.” The crime of unauthorized access is more serious … Read more