The Role of the Rule of Lenity and the Canon of Constitutional Avoidance in Interpreting the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”), enacted in 1986, is a federal law that proscribes certain behavior involving unauthorized access to computers. Over time, a circuit split developed regarding the meaning of the CFAA’s “Access Provision.” The Supreme Court resolved this circuit split in its recent decision Van Buren v. United States. In this Contribution, Rachel Sang (’22) argues that although both the majority opinion and the dissent in Van Buren provide convincing textual interpretations of the statute, policy considerations, the rule of lenity, and constitutional concerns weigh in favor of the majority’s construction of the CFAA.