Focusing the CFAA in Van Buren

Supreme Court Review (Forthcoming)

29 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2022

See all articles by Orin S. Kerr

Orin S. Kerr

University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Date Written: January 27, 2022


Van Buren v. United States (2021) is the United States Supreme Court's first decision interpreting the federal computer crime law known as the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA). This essay, presents an overview of the decision and its significance for debates over the CFAA's meaning. It analogizes Van Buren to partially focusing a lens: The Court’s opinion brings new ground into focus, letting us see a range of landmarks that were blurry before. But it leaves important details hazy, leaving their resolution to future cases that can bring the CFAA into sharper focus. It also argues that Van Buren's reasoning provides substantial support for an authentication-based understanding of CFAA liability.

Keywords: CFAA, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Van Buren, authorized access

JEL Classification: K14, K42

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Orin S., Focusing the CFAA in Van Buren (January 27, 2022). Supreme Court Review (Forthcoming), Available at SSRN: or

Orin S. Kerr (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley School of Law ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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