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Judge Tosses Fired Employee’s Computer Hacking Claim over Takeover of Her LinkedIn Account

Posted Oct 10, 2012 6:15 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A fired employee won’t be able to pursue a federal claim alleging her employer violated a federal computer hacking law when it took over her LinkedIn account.

The employee, Linda Eagle, had alleged her former company had violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by its actions. But U.S. District Judge Ronald Buckwalter of Pennsylvania tossed the claim in a decision (PDF) last week, report Ars Technica and the Technology & Marketing Law Blog.

Eagle was president of Edcomm, a financial services training company, but after its buyout she and other executives were fired, according to the opinion. Edcomm had encouraged all of its employees to have LinkedIn accounts and Eagle had shared her password with an employee who assisted in maintaining the account. After Eagle was fired, Edcomm changed her password and changed the account profile to display the name of her replacement.

Eagle had claimed that her former employer’s actions interfered with possible invitations to connect and business opportunities, including a possible $100,000 chance to provide training services. Buckwalter said the damages were too speculative.

“Plaintiff is not claiming that she lost money because her computer was inoperable or because she expended funds to remedy damage to her computer,” Buckwalter wrote. “Loss of business opportunities, particularly such speculative ones as [the $100,000 opportunity] is simply not compensable under the CFAA.”

The court allowed state law claims, however, including a conversion claim, according to Technology & Marketing Law Blog.

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