Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rodriguez: Unauthorized Access of Computer

In U.S. v. Rodriguez, No. 09-15265 (Dec. 27, 2010), the Court affirmed a conviction for unauthorized accessing of a computer database, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(B).

Rodriguez was an employee of the Social Security Administration who made unauthorized use of Social Security computer databases to obtain personal information about persons he knew. The defendant claimed that his conduct did not violate the statute because he did not use the data for financial gain, or to commit a crime. The Court rejected the argument, pointing out that the (misdemeanor) statute criminalizes the unauthorized accessing of databases, and does not require financial gain, or commission of a crime.

Rodriguez also challenged the upward variance he received as unreasonable. The Court found that a variance was warranted by the number of victims and the extensive nature of Rodriguez’ unauthorized access.