Florida Cyber Crime News: Bashaw v. Johnson Voyeuristic Lawyer Countersues Employees He Allegedly Peeped on -- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Claim Dismissed

June 4, 2012 by David S. Seltzer

If you've been accused of a Florida cyber crime, you likely need to understand the nuts and bolts of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the main federal computer crime statute, also known as 18 U.S. Code 1030.

Bashaw v. Johnson, a colorful case out of Kansas, illustrates how the CFAA can apply… even in unusual circumstances.

According to news reports, Jeremiah Johnson, a personal lawyer who practices in Kansas, allegedly had been secretly videotaping his female employees' legs and undergarments using his iPad and iPhone. The plaintiffs allege that Johnson set up his iPod using an application called Cam-u-flage -- a well-known spy camera app -- and then surreptitiously placed the device under the desks of his female employees. Johnson was also said to have told the women to wear skirts and high heels to the office. After one of the employees discovered the hidden camera under her desk, she quickly found the photos and deleted them.

She and her coworkers then proceeded to sue Johnson for $75,000 in damages -- each!

Johnson, however, happened upon a curious legal strategy.

He countersued the women, claiming that they had violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act by accessing his devices and deleting data from them. According to section 1030(g) of the CFAA, a "person who suffers damage or loss by reason of a violation of this section may maintain a civil action against the violator to obtain compensatory damages."

The loss has to be pretty substantial, though. To claim damages per the CFAA, you need to hit a threshold of $5,000. That is, a claimant must show that the loss or damage that occurred was worth at least $5,000. Johnson failed to show this loss, according to the judge, who also said "[Johnson] does not allege or identify any investigative or response costs incurred as a result of the alleged CFAA violation and he does not allege any lost revenues or other losses incurred due to any interruption in service."

Also, curiously (or perhaps not so curiously, given the allegations), Johnson failed to identify the nature of the supposedly valuable data that had been erased.

The counterclaim's dismissal notwithstanding, Johnson could still try again with a different CFAA claim, but he must figure out how to deal with the discrepancies the judge pointed out.

If you're dealing with CFAA charges as a Florida cyber crime defendant…

If you are a defendant in a CFAA case, you could face a battery of scary outcomes, which could result in financial loss and the devastation of your professional reputation.
Fortunately, the well respected team at Seltzer Law, P.A., has developed powerful processes and great relationships to help criminal defendants battle back and protect their freedom. Attorney Seltzer has a deep familiarity with the CFAA and other critical federal and Florida cyber crime laws.

Find out more online, or call us any time, 24/7, on our toll free hotline: 1-888-THE DEFENSE (888-843-3333).