by Bradley T. Cave
A Wyoming law going into effect on July 1 creates a new criminal offense—computer trespassing—that may give employers a new tool to prevent employee sabotage.
Computer trespassing occurs when a person knowingly and without authorization sends malware, data, or a program that (1) alters or damages a computer, system, or network or (2) causes a computer, system, or network to malfunction or disseminate sensitive information. To trigger the law, a person must intend to damage a computer, system, or network or cause the computer, system, or network to malfunction.
The new law may be helpful if former or disgruntled employees attempt to misuse an employer’s computer systems. Employers should adopt technology policies to define when and how employees are authorized to use their computers, systems, and networks. If an employee damages a computer under questionable circumstances, technology policies may help employers draw clear lines on when an employee’s access is unauthorized and pursue civil remedies under the new law.
The law permits someone who suffers damage because of computer trespassing to sue the offender for damages to computers, systems, or networks and costs incurred because of the loss of use of those assets. The person filing suit can recover the amount of damages caused by the offense as well as the costs incurred in identifying the trespasser and serving the trespasser with a complaint.
For information on other measures considered by the Wyoming Legislature, see the April issue of Wyoming Employment Law Letter.