Grow: The legal implications of the Cardinals’ alleged hacking

From SABR member Nathaniel Grow at FanGraphs on June 16, 2015:

The New York Times dropped a bombshell of a story Tuesday morning, reporting that the FBI is investigating whether front-office officials from the St. Louis Cardinals may have illegally hacked into the Houston Astros’ proprietary computer network. According to the Times, government officials believe that unnamed Cardinals employees may have accessed the Astros’ computers in order to retrieve the team’s internal trade discussions, proprietary statistics and scouting reports. The FBI has apparently traced the source of the hacking to a house shared by some Cardinals employees.

While some are understandably comparing Tuesday’s news to the NFL’s recent “SpyGate” scandal – in which the New England Patriots were accused of impermissibly videotaping the New York Jets coaches’ hand signals during a 2007 game – if true, the Cardinals’ alleged hacking would, of course, be much more serious. Beyond just league-imposed penalties, the hacking allegations carry the possibility of criminal prosecution, not just for the Cardinals employees involved in the breach, but potentially for the organization as a whole. 

The primary law implicated by the Cardinals’ alleged hacking would appear to be the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The CFAA was originally passed back in 1984 to protect both the government and the financial industry from electronic espionage. The law was later expanded in 1996, however, to cover any unauthorized, remote access of another’s computer.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: June 19, 2015. Last Updated: June 19, 2015.