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I had an active slack session which never timed out and was able to read chats for a couple of months before I finally logged out.

Since I logged out (approx 6 months after leaving the company) I notified security about this issue.

I have not downloaded any data from the slack channel and was simply a lurker there.

Furthermore I worked remotely from a different state.

Is this state misdemeanor computer tresspassing or a federal offense or "no big deal"? Is this a potential civil suit? Are they required to let me know if they will press charges? Are they likely to?

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There will be reasonable expectation that one does not access his/her former employer's premises, whether physical or virtual, nor at least unless the employer knows about it and does not mind.

Whereas they could possibly pursue charges of unauthorized access to computer systems, practically this is very unlikely due to the lack of both malicious intent and any damage caused by you. To get them bother you would need to, for example, have stolen intellectual property or trade secrets, and used it for your benefit and their loss.

They are certainly not required to tell you about their intentions. Your mere attempt to find them out may change them.

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You can access an old company’s data legally if you are authorised.

Being able to access the data is not authorisation. If Jim Smith leaves the company and by mistake Joe Smith’s access is removed, then Jim is not authorised but Joe is even though Jim can access data and Joe can’t. If IT totally forgets to remove Jim’s access, Jim is still not authorised. In that kind of situation Jim is only authorised if the company intentionally keeps him authorised. Jim should assume he’s not authorised unless he has this in writing.

On the other hand, if you use software that automatically logs in to all accounts it can, and the company should have closed down access, the software accessing data is not illegal until you use the data in any way, and if you don’t stop that access as soon as you become aware of it.

Reading chats of the company is definitely a problem. As soon as you realised you still could access chats you should have logged out and removed the software’s ability to access chats. If you needed IT to do things like this, you should have contacted the company’s IT and they should have sorted it out.

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