A Question of Access

In a San Francisco federal courtroom, the long and winding criminal case of David Nosal gets underway again today (after two previous installments), with possible implications for HR and the recruiting world possibly riding on the outcome, according to this piece from Wired:

Beginning today, jurors will begin deliberating their first full day in the two-week hacking prosecution of David Nosal, whose case has had a tortured legal history with two trips to a federal appeals court.

Nosal’s crime, prosecutors say, is this: His former colleagues at Los Angeles-based executive search firm Korn/Ferry International, where he had worked, gave him their passwords to access a proprietary database that the authorities claim helped Nosal build a competing executive search firm.

According to the story, Nosal is accused of violating his former employer’s computer usage policy because he allegedly was not authorized to access its proprietary database:

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, ruling in Nosal’s case for a second time last year, decided that employees may not be prosecuted under the anti-hacking statute for simply violating their employer’s computer use policy. The tossed charges against Nosal stemmed from when Nosal, while still a Korn/Ferry employee, had authorized credentials to access Korn/Ferry’s so-called “searcher” database. He was accused of using the information he allegedly obtained to help build a competing business.

Because of the legalities — and technicalities — involved in all of this, the case’s outcome is being watched from many quarters, so stay tuned!