Cyber-Trespass and 'Unauthorized Access' as Legal Mechanisms of Access Control: Lessons from the US Experience

Posted: 29 Feb 2008  

Mary Wai San Wong

University of New Hampshire School of Law

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

The common law doctrine of trespass to chattels has recently been revived and applied by courts in the United States (US) to cover intrusions (in the form of electronic signals) to computer systems connected to the Internet. These cases represent judicial recognition of the need to protect certain unwanted intrusions in cyberspace, though the principles developed therewith are remarkably expansive. As such, they overlap with the concept of 'unauthorized access' under computer misuse legislation in the US and elsewhere. This overlap has yet to be judicially acknowledged. Since the US, the United Kingdom and other common law countries not only share a common law ancestry but also 'unauthorized access' principles as the primary trigger for computer misuse, this paper seeks to examine the consequences of developing a broad cyber-trespass doctrine beyond the US, and its corresponding implications for judicial interpretations of 'unauthorized access' in the common law world.

Suggested Citation

Wong, Mary Wai San, Cyber-Trespass and 'Unauthorized Access' as Legal Mechanisms of Access Control: Lessons from the US Experience ( 2007). International Journal of Law and Information Technology, Vol. 15, Issue 1, pp. 90-128, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1098663 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ijlit/eal014

Mary Wai San Wong (Contact Author)

University of New Hampshire School of Law ( email )

Two White Street
Concord, NH 03301
603-5135143 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://law.unh.edu/marywong/index.php

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