In response to a storm of controversy surrounding its treatment of Human Cyborg Steve Mann, McDonald's has issued a statement, claiming that it has investigated the incident and determined that it "did not involve a physical altercation " when the University of Toronto Professor and father of wearable computing was ejected from one of its Paris restaurants. Earlier this week, Mann made headlines when he published a blog post alleging that employees at the Champs-Elysses McDonald's had tried to pull his EyeTap Glass off of his head and, when that failed, physically pushed him out the door and onto the street.
Update: Dr. Mann has sent us a new photo which appears to show a McDonald's employee grabbing his glasses.If valid, this image seems to disprove McDonald's claim that there was no physical altercation.
In an exclusive email interview, he told us that the alleged assault took place after employees objected to the EyeTap's potential use as a camera -- the device captures images in real-time but does not save them by default -- and tore up a doctor's note that Mann showed them, explaining why he needs to wear the permanently-attached device.
However, today, McDonald's is contradicting Mann's story, saying that its employees did not touch him or damage his equipment. "Mr. Mann was not kicked out, but was asked to leave," a rep told us, confirming that the cyborg had been removed because of his photographic gear.
In a statement, the fast food retailer said:
We share the concern regarding Dr. Mann's account of his July 1 visit to a McDonald's in Paris. McDonald’s France was made aware of Dr. Mann’s complaints on July 16, and immediately launched a thorough investigation. The McDonald’s France team has contacted Dr. Mann and is awaiting further information from him.
In addition, several staff members involved have been interviewed individually, and all independently and consistently expressed that their interaction with Dr. Mann was polite and did not involve a physical altercation. Our crew members and restaurant security staff have informed us that they did not damage any of Mr. Mann's personal possessions.
While we continue to learn more about the situation, we are hearing from customers who have questions about what happened. We urge everyone not to speculate or jump to conclusions before all the facts are known. Our goal is to provide a welcoming environment and stellar service to McDonald's customers around the world.
Is filming actually against the rules at McDonald's? A rep also told us that the company allows its franchisees to set their own photography policies.
We reached out to Dr. Mann for further comment and are awaiting his response.