In a 6-3 decision on Thursday, the US Supreme Court held that a former police sergeant didn’t violate that the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) when he used his patrol vehicle to get a police database for private purposes.

Sergeant Nathan Van Buren has been compensated $5,000 with an FBI informant to conduct a license plate number by means of a law enforcement database. Van Buren was detained and charged with a felony violation of the CFAA, where it’s illegal”to get a computer with authorization and to use such access to obtain or alter information in the computer that the accesser isn’t entitled so to obtain or change.” Van Buren contended that the statute’s term”exceeds authorized access” applies only to individuals who gain access to data to which their legal access doesn’t expand, not to people as himself, who only abuse their legal access.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, writing for the majority, held that the plain meaning of this text of the statute complies with Van Buren’s argument. Specifically, the term”so” from the term”qualified so to receive ” identifies data that you isn’t permitted to access by means of a pc that you is licensed to get. With this rationale, Van Buren’s hunt, even though a misuse of his jurisdiction, wasn’t a breach of the CFAA since he’s authorized to get the permit information on his PC.

Thomas agreed with Van Buren’s comprehension of this phrase”therefore,” but claims that the phrase”qualified” is”circumstance determined,” and in this specific circumstance, the very fact that Van Buren was searching the database because of his personal gain devoting his entitlement to do so.

The decision puts a limitation on a wide reading of this CFAA the Department of Justice has depended on in the past couple of decades.