This first subsection of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes it illegal to use a computer to commit espionage. This section tracks other federal anti-espionage laws such as 18 USC 793, 794 and 798.
One significant difference between this and other federal computer fraud statutes, including those in later portions of this same code section is the state of mind element. 1030(a)(1) has a heightened mental element. In order to violate this section a person must (1) purposefully transmit or retain information that (2) he has reason to believe could be used to the injure the United States or benefit another country, and (3) that he has obtained through access to a computer that he knows he had no authority to access.
18 USC 1030(a)(1) – Computer Espionage
Whoever having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y. of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;