The offence of authorized use of a computer is outlined in section 342.1(1) of the Criminal Code.
A person commits the offence of unauthorized use a computer when they obtain any computer service, either directly or indirectly, fraudulently or without legal authorization.
A person also commits the offence of unauthorized use of a computer when they use an electro-magnetic, acoustic, mechanical, or other device to intercept or cause to be intercepted, directly or indirectly, any function of a computer system.
A person also commits the offence of unauthorized use of a computer when they use or cause to be used, either directly or indirectly, a computer system with the intent to commit any offence listed in the prior two paragraphs, or under section 430 of the Criminal Code, which is the offence of mischief.
Finally, someone commits the offence of unauthorized use of a computer when they use, possess, traffic, or permit another person to have access to a computer password that would enable a person to commit an offence under any of the three paragraphs above.
Person A hacks into the Netflix database to get access to the streaming service without paying for it.
Person B uses an electro-magnetic device to intercept and copy the electronic key of a car to allow them to access the vehicle without the physical car key fob.
Person C uses a computer system to hack into the data base of a local business to browse their private customer records.
Person D surreptitiously records their manager entering their password into their computer. Person D uses the password to log into the mangers account.
R. v. Livingston, 2017 ONCH 747 (CanLII)
In the case of R. v. Livingston, two Queen’s Park employees were charged with unauthorized use of a computer after double deleting pertinent emails related to the relocation of a gas plant. The pair also got the necessary credentials to allow them to log into their own computers as well as the computers of other staff members and wipe the hard drives of important information.
Offence Specific Defences
To be convicted of the offence of unauthorized use a computer, the Crown must prove that the accused acted fraudulently or without colour of right. This means the accused had no legal authority to access the computer system. If the accused had authorization to access the computer system and can prove that, they cannot be convicted of the offence.