Cellular Telephone Considered “Computer” Within the Meaning of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled that a cellular telephone, even one lacking Internet access, is a “computer” within the meaning of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (United States v. Kramer, 8th Cir., No. 10-1983, 2/8/11).  According to the Court of Appeals, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) defines the term “computer” quite broadly and, as written, could reach a number of different devices, including traditional computers, cellular telephones, and countless other devices with electronic storage capabilities.

Based upon the foregoing, the court affirmed an individual’s two-level sentencing enhancement for the use of a “computer” to facilitate an offense of transporting a minor in interstate commerce with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.  The court noted that the sentencing guidelines defer to the CFAA’s definition of “computer.”

Richard Newman, Internet Lawyer and Business Litigation Attorney – Hinch Newman LLP

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