In United States v. Kramer, the Eighth Circuit upheld a two-level sentence enhancement for a defendant who made calls and sent text messages from a cellphone to a minor in order to lure her across state lines for criminal sexual activity. This enhancement was based on a provision in the United States Sentencing Guidelines that incorporates the definition of “computer” from the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. The broad language of that statute encompasses not only computers—in the plainest sense—and cellphones, but also a myriad of other devices such as automobiles equipped with GPS navigation. In contrast to the sentencing context, this conception of many electronics devices as “computers” does not extend into issues related to searches. There, courts tend to permit broader examination of cellphones and other electronic devices in searches incident to arrest, despite the general protection computers are usually afforded under the Fourth Amendment.
J. C. Lundberg,
When Is a Phone a Computer?,
8 Wash. J. L. Tech. & Arts
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wjlta/vol8/iss4/3