Share your password, do the time – lessons under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act


The Student: Jane Smith, a County Clerk of Court with a distinguished career of service for 39 years.

The Mistake: Sharing her computer password with an IT contractor who was working on the Clerk’s office computers with the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office, and Madison County Jail to improve the sharing of records and increase efficiency. The IT contractor was the retired IT Director and Deputy Administrative Director of Courts for the Alabama Court System who had over 30 years of service with the courts system. Would you really question this guy if he asked you for your password so that he could work on the computer system on which he was hired to work? Well now you know, why you should. Apparently the IT contractor got into some kind of mischief to warrant a 2 year investigation and Ms. Smith got pulled into it as well.

The Crime: Aiding and Abetting Unauthorized Access Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

That’s right, Jane Smith, the Madison County Alabama Circuit Clerk was charged with 3 counts of Aiding and Abetting Unauthorized Access under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act; she accepted responsibility for her mistake and entered into a plea agreement for the charges:

“When you make a mistake, you own up to it, accept responsibility, and move on. My only goal with this computer project was to ensure that Madison County has the most efficient and modernized system possible to improve efficiency and make our courts run better. I am happy to put this issue behind me and continue my 39 years of service to this office and the people of Madison County.”

You can read more about this in the following article: Madison County Circuit Court Clerk Charged – UPDATED (2/15/12). I would like to thank my friend and law school classmate Greg Varner for sending me this article — he is a really smart guy and you should follow him on Twitter: @varnergreg

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