Google Wins Upside Down Social Security Number Privacy Lawsuit

Eric Goldman reports Google has won the Jayne v. Google Founders lawsuit (PDF). The suit was filed by Dylan Stephen Jayne against Google for $5 billion. Jayne claimed when you turn his social security number upside down, it spelled Google.

In any event, a United States court of appeals for the third circuit dismissed Jayne’s complaint. The court found Google to not be a “state actor.”

Google and its founders are not state actors, and Jayne’s allegation concerning his coded social security number does not constitute a violation of the Constitution or federal law.

The full decision is:

This appeal arises from the order of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania dismissing Dylan Stephen Jayne’s complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). We will affirm.

In September 2007, Jayne filed an action, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the founders of the Google internet search engine, alleging that his social security number when turned upside down is a scrambled code that spells the name “Google.” The District Court reviewed the lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B), and dismissed it sua sponte for failure to state a claim. Jayne filed a timely appeal. We have jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1291. We exercise plenary review of the District Court’s sua sponte dismissal for failure to state a claim. See Allah v. Seiverling, 229 F.3d 220, 223 (3d Cir. 2000).

To prevail on his § 1983 claim, Jayne must demonstrate that the named defendants acted under color of state law and deprived him of rights secured by the Constitution or federal law. See Sameric Corp. of Del., Inc. v. City of Philadelphia, 142 F.3d 582, 590 (3d Cir. 1998). It is clear that neither of these criteria is satisfied here. As explained by the District Court, Google and its founders are not state actors, and Jayne’s allegation concerning his coded social security number does not constitute a violation of the Constitution or federal law. We also agree that any amendment of the complaint would be futile. See Grayson v. Mayview State Hosp., 293 F.3d 103, 110 (3d Cir. 2002).

For these reasons, we will affirm the District Court’s order.

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Google: Legal | Legal: Privacy


About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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