The United States Law Week

Facebook’s Nominal Damages in Computer Fraud Case Upheld

Jan. 22, 2019, 4:51 PM

Facebook will get $79,640 in damages in its successful Computer Fraud and Abuse Act suit against a social media aggregator.

The district court’s calculation, which was based on Facebook’s evidence, was proper, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said Jan. 18 in an unpublished opinion.

Power Ventures Inc. accessed Facebook users’ data and initiated form e-mails and other electronic messages promoting its website. Power had implied permission from users to access their data, but when Facebook learned about Power’s activities, it sent a cease and desist letter.

Power Ventures circumvented Facebook’s efforts to shut down its access to the data until Facebook filed its CFAA suit, according to the appeals court.

In the initial appeal, the Ninth Circuit ruled that once permission to access a computer is revoked, subsequent access amounts to a violation of the CFAA. It then remanded the case to the district court to calculate Facebook’s damages.

The district court correctly limited the damages to the period after Power received the cease and desist letter, the appeals court said, upholding the award.

Judges Susan P. Graber, Milan D. Smith Jr., and Mary H. Murguia were on the panel.

Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP represented Facebook. Aroplex Law represented Power.

The case is Facebook, Inc. v. Power Ventures, Inc., 2019 BL 17795, 9th Cir., No. 17-16161, unpublished 1/18/19.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bernie Pazanowski in Washington at bpazanowski@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com

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