McDonald and privacy issues

July 25, 2012 |

Last Friday the Herald Sun ran a report McDonald’s says hi-tech specs ‘sparked privacy fears’.  The article has a bit of the gosh golly geez to it but it does raise a very important issue.  People are concerned about visual recording devices in their midst, particularly when not mounted as a CCTV (though I think there is enough concern about them as well.  There tends to be one side of the topic reported on those issues).

It provides:

MCDONALD’S workers in Paris who stopped a Canadian professor from wearing computerised eyeglasses feared he could be recording or photographing people in violation of their privacy, the company has said.

Steve Mann, who designed a vision device similar to the enhanced reality glasses recently announced by Google, said he and his family were vacationing in Paris and stopped by the Champs Elysees McDonald’s on July 1.

In his blog, Professor Mann wrote that he showed McDonald’s staff a note from his physician and accompanying documents about the glasses, but that three staff members knocked the device off his head and grabbed it.

“McDonald’s was the only establishment that seemed to have any problem with my eyeglass during our entire 2 week trip,” Prof Mann wrote, describing the three employees as Perpetrators 1, 2 and 3. He said when the first staffer grabbed the glasses, he recorded images of the confrontation. But the lens was damaged, said Prof Mann, a professor of computer engineering at the University of Toronto.

On its Facebook page, McDonald’s France wrote that as part of its inquiry officials have spoken with Prof Mann and the employees.

The staff said they were concerned about privacy violations when they approached Prof Mann, according to the statement. McDonald’s did not say if the staff members admitted knocking the glasses off Prof Mann’s head.

“According to the employees, the exchanges with Mr Mann were respectful and polite,” the company said.

“Regarding the emotion this affair has generated, McDonald’s asks that no one jump to conclusions before all the facts are known.”

Prof Mann has said he hopes the glasses will ultimately help the visually impaired. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment today.

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