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No one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device. Ergo this was not an ordinary McDonald's, but one with security people looking for cameras. Why would a McDonald's have security people looking for cameras? Possibly because it was a mafia front. If you wanted to launder money, a fast food restaurant in a popular location would be a good place to do it.

The way the employees behaved is consistent with this explanation.

Edit: I should have said no more than that the excessive reaction of the security people suggests there may be something dubious happening at this McDonald's that they don't want filmed. But there are other less dramatic things they might be doing besides money laundering: using undocumented labor, for example.

Is this the real PG throwing around conspiracy theories? Wow.

I'm French and have been living in Paris my whole life. In France you're not allowed to take pictures or movies of people without their consent. If you try to take pictures of strangers in the subway you will be heckled and possibly assaulted, and the police will do nothing to stop it.

I'm not defending my country here -- I'm a photographer and resent this a lot, this attitude is stupid -- but this is how it is.

> No one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device.

Every fast food and most retail shops now have "private security" who are untrained/uneducated people standing at the door and watching people come and go. I would bet none of them speaks a word of English so it's unlikely the letter from a doctor in the US meant anything to them. They felt entitled to prevent the taking of pictures in the restaurant and felt they were being played with false official documentation.

(Go try and take pictures at any McDonald's in Paris or any other fast food joint and you'll be met with extreme hostility, and possibly physical aggression).

This privatization of security is a very big problem and a scandal in its own right (the rule of law means the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence) and I try hard to never comply with what those security people tell me, and tell them to call the police if they're unhappy -- the fact is that they have absolutely zero legitimate power but since nobody knows it, they have a lot of semblance of power.

But I would be very very surprised if McDonald's in France (on the Champs Élysées!) had restaurants that were a mafia front. Undocumented labor is a more likely possibility, but again, no restaurant or in fact no retail place in Paris will let you take pictures inside their premises without a very strong confrontation. Go ahead and try.

You make a convincing case. I didn't realize attitudes toward photography (and security in shops) were so different in France. I've taken quite a lot of pictures there, including inside shops and restaurants IIRC, but somehow I must never have tripped this rule.

How embarrassing to have produced an instance of the indignant and uninformed speculation that I so often groan to find at the top of HN comment threads.

Yes, isn't the picture on your front page from Paris?


You can take pictures of monuments; you can take "general" pictures in the street; you can take pictures of people sitting at the same table as you in a restaurant.

But if you specifically target a stranger in the street, or take pictures in a shop, etc. then it will cause a stir.

>>You can take pictures of monuments; you can take "general" pictures in the street; you can take pictures of people sitting at the same table as you in a restaurant.

Actually, some architects and building owners forbid photography, for intellectual property reasons. Freedom of panorama (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_panorama) can be complicated.

Fun fact of the day: It is in violation of the law to publish a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night without permission, because the visual is under copyright.

A French court ruled in June 1990 that a special lighting display on the tower...was an "original visual creation" protected by copyright. The Court of Cassation, France's judicial court of last resort, upheld the ruling in March 1992. The Société d'exploitation de la tour Eiffel (SETE) now considers any illumination of the tower to be under copyright. As a result, it is no longer legal to publish contemporary photographs of the tower at night without permission in France and some other countries.


> were so different in France

Different as compared to what? Google “right to bear camera” and you will find many documented cases of policepersons, people in charge, and passersby harassing photographers, in cases photographers that were not using their equipment. These take place in countries that are otherwise considered civilized, all over the world.

Do you mean “different” as in “elsewhere, terrorism would have been invoked at some point”? http://photographernotaterrorist.org/

Clearly, he means "different as compared with the United States," where it's legal to photograph anything in a public space. But I get the sense you're itching for a fight about photographers' rights.

Although McDonald's isn't a public space, there would be several rungs in the ladder between "sir, you can't take photos in here" and a physical altercation.

>Clearly, he means "different as compared with the United States," where it's legal to photograph anything in a public space.

Despite this being the law, it can still get you in trouble with the police (in the US).

> In France you're not allowed to take pictures or movies of people without their consent.

"Droit à l'image" covers use, duplication and distribution of pictures of people, and only if said people can be identified on the picture. I don't know about any french law that forbids actually taking pictures of people in a public place. In a private area, there's Code Pénal, Art. 226-1, and even then, the law says that unless they explicitly disagree, their consent is assumed. Once the shot is taken, you don't have the right to publish the image without their explicit consent, and if no consent of publication is given, you can publish the image as long as people cannot be identified.

(FWIW one can take and publish pictures of goods to one's heart's content, provided it causes no harm)

> If you try to take pictures of strangers in the subway you will be heckled and possibly assaulted, and the police will do nothing to stop it.

There is no legitimate reason for a nearby police member not to try to stop someone physically assaulting someone else, whatever the reason of the assault may be. Their duty is to at least inquire into the situation.

> There is no legitimate reason for a nearby police member not to try to stop someone physically assaulting someone else

In France the photographer is considered the perpetrator. The police are more likely to help the people being photographed to not be photographed (if necessary, by taking the camera by force), than to protect the photographer. ("More likely" is an overstatement; the most likely behavior is that the police won't do anything either way).

> the most likely behavior is that the police won't do anything either way

Are you serious? So you say that in France, I can just beat up a random guy with a camera and claim that they tried to take a picture of me? And the police will just say "yeah, whatever, carry on. Need a stick?" Not very credible.

No he is not. He evidently does not have a clue about how the police and law work here in France.

Actually, the only situation when police really don't do anything, is when you come to them with petty crimes/misdemeanors and are unable of right away identify, or provide something to easily identify the offender. I've rarely seen the police not acting when evidences of identity are provided. Like in this case. If they didn't react... it's probably because the victim wasn't European... so taking on this case would be complicated and probably end in nothing. Because most often, when the victims are strangers the case tend to end in the trash after a while. And policemen don't like the idea of doing work for nothing. But they should do it. And act more often than not.

Note : Actually the Police may be doing something, but he OP don't know it. Because what's true about French policemen, is that they're horrible at communicating.

"Beat up", probably not. "Push around", probably yes.

Also, if it were done in front of a policeman, he may do something (or not -- if he's in charge of monitoring traffic he won't do anything about an altercation between pedestrians) -- but in most places there isn't any policeman.

If you go to the police after the fact and say that someone hit you in the face because you were taking a picture of them, then I guarantee you will elicit zero sympathy and will be made to wait a looong time before anyone writes down your complaint (which will go nowhere anyhow).

But of course circumstances matter; if you shoot people in the street then even policemen monitoring traffic will intervene; if someone cuts your arm in half because you were carrying a camera then the police will help!!

That sounds more like what I'm used to seeing. I guess the parent was being a little hyperbolic, or simply hastily generalizing what may be true for professional photographers (i.e. conspicuously pointing large gear in the face of people without asking for their permission). Even so, you'll find millions of your typical subway candid shots taken in Paris on the internet. I don't suppose all of these shots resulted in the photographer being assaulted in front of a consenting crowd.

As a fellow Frenchman I can confirm everything bambax said!

Maybe one other explanation for this incident is the amount of hidden camera documentaries airing on national TV recently. I can imagine these security agent being briefed to avoid at all costs having another Super Size Me shot at their location.

Can either of you explain why the French police does not get involved? It seems like vigilante justice would be something they'd want to stamp out.

In France, taking a picture of a stranger can be compared to entering his home, unannounced, and helping yourself with the content of his fridge.

The reaction can be mild "Hey, WTF??" to aggressive (being punched in the face).

In the US, if you go to the police saying "I entered this guy's home and took a Coke from his fridge, and next thing you know he punched me!! For a can of Coke!?! Can you believe that! Please arrest him!" the police will likely tell you "you're lucky you didn't get shot".

In France the photographer is considered the perpetrator. The police will not help him (and maybe worse if he insists...)

Also, "assault" is very different here than in the US; grabbing someone by the arm or pushing him around isn't considered assault (more like a disagreement).

That said, you can get very far with asking first: many people, if asked, won't mind being photographed (but you have to ask every person, and respect every decision, which would make the whole process pretty complex).

French student in law here. And you're so wrong it's painful to read. Police isn't acting, because damages are small, not a single ITT probably (ITT is the measure of personal damages in french law), little damage to a gadget, and the guy is not French, so the case will probably never go anywhere. That's probably why police didn't react. Not because he was considered the perpetrator... Actually the French law is totally permissive about taking photos. It's the publishing of those who may cause a problem... and even in that, the Cour de Cassation does not enforce it all the time, or with a regular severity. Maybe some persons don't like you taking photos of them. But you should not excuse them saying "it's cultural... we don't like it". No you're wrong, you don't like it, they don't like it, some people don't. Other don't give a fuck. And if you don't like it... it doesn't change a thing. It's totally legal to do it, so reacting like a douchebag is not only stupid but wrong. And actually, as described probably a felony.

And please the ... "Also, "assault" is very different here than in the US; grabbing someone by the arm or pushing him around isn't considered assault (more like a disagreement)." the description of what happened is not just "grabbing someone by the arm". But anyway you're wrong, because even in that situation, grabbing someone by the arm an pushing him around is quite exactly the main case of application of Article 222-13 of the Penal Code, under the condition n°8. And the Criminal Chamber of the Cour de Cass' has said millions of times that an actual physical assault is not needed to qualify assault (which in France is called 'violence volontaires'), but only a psychological one, or something that shocked emotionally someone is enough. So yeah... it's maximum 3 years and 45k€ in fine for each of the 3 perpetrators.

Oh, and by the way... if you think that punching a man in the face just because he entered your home without authorization and took a Coke is enough to justify legitimate defense your totally wrong. And you should go live in Florida with Mr. Zimmerman. No it's not. The legitimate defense of property (because the guy wasn't menacing you physically, just abusing your property require some details like : Asking the guy to drop the can and get the fuck out of your house before attacking him physically. And that the retaliation is proportionate. The punch, if soft, would pass this test. The gun certainly not, not for a Coke. And if you broke is nose and jaw, probably not.

Please everyone, do not take what anyone saying his french as an expert opinion on French society and French law (sadly, this also includes me).

I wasn't talking about the law, but about customs; and the letter of the law doesn't mean much anyways -- what matters is how it's enforced.

But according to the letter of the law you appear to be mistaken: article 222-13 of the Penal Code says the exact opposite of what you make it say.

Article 222-11 says that acts of violence resulting in more than 8 days of "ITT" (incapacité totale de travail) carry a penalty of up to 3 years in jail.

Article 222-13 says that acts of violence resulting in less than 8 days of ITT carry the same penalty if and only if they satisfy one of 18 special cases.

This means that acts of violence that

1/ result in up to 7 days of ITT (total work inability)

2/ do not satisfy any of the 18 special cases

don't carry any penalty AT ALL.


In plain English: if two adults fight and the fight doesn't result in one of them being unable to work for more than a week, then no one can be charged with anything.

Yeah, I know you're speaking of customs. But customs never should be used as an excuse for illegal behavior. Its like saying, yeah there was a lot of child abuse in the seventies, but it was the custom back then (I'm not comparing child abuse complacency and over-reaction to photography, I'm making a point about the structure of your argument).

And, plus, your lecture of the French customs is radically different from mine. I do not recognize myself and my compatriots in what your describing. Never saw someone react like your saying of photography. So maybe... you should remember that you're not Levi-Strauss, you just saying what you think about french... It's a commonplace your spreading like "French people are cocky and smell" or "Americans are stupid, you know that they don't believe in evolution". What you're describing is at most a fringe behavior. Neither you nor I are sufficiently aware of the inner complexity of French society (or American, of Papuan) to make so bold judgments. You say it's normal. I say it's not. Who's right ? I'm as French as you are, and no less expert than you (by no less I mean => Not at all). It's you say, I say. No solution for it.

Then you say that it's not about the letter of the law, but how it's enforced. Ahh, then we are coming to a matter that I know a little better than anthropology, see, because I actually had to deal with the police, I've spent time in prison (happily not as an inmate), I've studied law and you know... it's applications. Because, even if a lot of people think we keep our heads in the letter of the law, we actually spend a lot of time trying to understand what's actually the practice of it. And heck, I even had to go report some small felonies that against my very person, and not other people.* And what you're reporting as the "attitude" of the police, is pretty much what almost every layman think of them. Because most of the population despise the police, and think they're useless etc. etc. But you know what, It's not accurate. Yes there is some truth to it. Yes the police won't do all that the law ask them to do. Yes they do a lot of abuses (holy shit, a "PV d'arrestation" is some of the funnier readings you can find around, it's what I read when I need to take a break). And yes, you can come up with a lot of stories of people who had terrible experiences with them (but yeah you know what, no one who had good experiences with the police brags about it), and cases where the police did nothing about a serious case etc. etc. The French police tv series like PJ, Navarro, etc. are full of those. But, well, go to a tribunal, and look at the roll of cases you'll see that the second or third chief of accusation is "violences volontaires ayant entrainé une ITT de moins de 8 jours" (behind small drug related affairs and small theft). But you're right almost half the time it's not because of the 222-13 of the Penal Code. But under Art. R.625-1 of the same Code (section reglémentaire). It's a misdemeanor, fifth class. 3000€ of fine. It's not much... but you should not forget that the 21 special cases described in the 222-13 that transform the misdemeanor in a felony are really broad. And in the situation described, it is almost certain that the Special case n°8 is qualified (if more than one person participated in the assault, but there is a lot of special case so broad as : if the person was drunk or under effect of some drug, if the person acted upon premeditation, because of the race or sexuality, if the victim is an infirm, pregnant, old, under 15 etc). The Public Ministry knows how to make sure you can be arrested under the 222-13.

But, then anyway, even if you fall outside of the the 21 special cases, you can still have a financial penalty. And by the way, even if ITT has the word Travail in it (work) it has nothing to do with your work capacity (yeah I know, it's an horrible name, legal people are trying to change it to Total Temporary Incapacity)(heck, how would we measure it for babies?). It measures how your day-to-day life was affected. If your disturbed in your normal routine (be it crying all the day for mommy to clean your mess if your a baby) for a week, then you have an ITT of 7 days. But if your emotionally distressed for a week... it's the same. Even if you can still go to work. Anyway, as I said, is a standard measure used by doctors to communicate with the Justice. Break a jaw, and you've got 15 days. A nose ? Between 6 and 20 days. Bruises ? 3 days. Difficulties to sleep after the fight because of stress and nightmare ? between 2 and 10 days (depending on you capacity to lie to the doctor). Got two of those ? Sum it.

So yeah in a bar fight where you only end up with some bruises, no one is going to the jail. Only a 1000€ fine, and 500€ in damages most of the time. But a fight of 2 picking up on somebody ? Felony. And it's what we have there.

But why are you talking about this ? I thought you were all about how the laws are enforced and not the letter. Well, and you know what, based on what I've seen (Créteil/Bobigny) (and it's maybe anecdotal), those kind of cases clutter up the Tribunal de Police. Seriously. And to a lesser extent, the Tribunal correctionnel. And in a lot of those cases of "small" assaults, there was some kind of non-violent provocation. Of course if you punch someone in the face and get punched back, the case is not going to a tribunal, but if you say : Fuck you to some one and get a big punch in the face, you should go to the tribunal, your probably winning easily, not much, but still, somewhere a policeman will hear you and send your case to the Public Ministry, who will be pissed off, with this, but at least make a Rappel a la Loi if it's a misdemeanor.

So in this case, where there wasn't even a provocation in my understanding (but for you, it seems that all French people get mad at people taking photos), there is no reason not to follow up and pursue those 3 guys at MacDonalds. And from my experience, had he been French or at least European, the police would have (maybe they are and we do not know) (Well... if the story is true... obviously).

I've actually met a person in jail who had punched someone in the face, after being called son of a bitch, but the victim fell with his head against a chair and passed out for several hours. The perpetrator was in recidivism situation so he ended up with 6 month in prison.

In plain English : Please stop saying what things ARE. And start saying what you feel/think things ARE. Principally when you're speaking as if you where an expert, and mainly conveying "conventional wisdom" which most of the time is not totally accurate, to be kind.

PS : You should read the annotated version of the law, you know the 'Code Penal' Red Book by Dalloz, not just legifrance. Because legifrance does not have the jurisprudence, and analysis of articles and interconnections in the law.

> And yes, you can come up with a lot of stories of people who had terrible experiences with them (but yeah you know what, no one who had good experiences with the police brags about it)

That is exactly the reason why I always make a point of "bragging" about having a positive experience with the police. Which has been about 2 or 3 times (fire, mugging, and a local robbery I happened to witness). Glad to have them. Even though afaik they never caught those responsible for the last two, it's how they dealt with the victims that makes it count.

> Can either of you explain why the French police does not get involved?

Steve Mann says it was a factor of luck: "I also contacted the Embassy, Consulate, Police, etc., without much luck".

But IMO it could also be that he didn't have a clue what he was doing. What was he expecting to accomplish with the embassy or the consulate??

You're not going to have much "luck" with an embassy unless you're being arrested or personally held at the police station.

And you're not going to have much "luck" with a consulate unless you need assistance with formal documents regarding international relations such as passports, visas or permits for international trade.

And the police. Correct me if I'm wrong but if I'd be in New York City, say in a posh area near Wall Street, and I get into a scene in a McDonalds where somebody physically assaults me. I go to the NY police and try to explain, either in French or in broken English with a very thick French accent, how much "luck" do you think I would have?

I would go to the police for one thing and one thing only, which is to file a report so I can make an insurance claim. Because that's the only person who speaks your language and gets paid for helping you and has a 24/7 worldwide hotline: your travel insurance agent! Not to mention they have a lot of experience with exactly these kinds of troubles.

Especially if it's about damage to his important medical aid, which surely the same anonymous doctor that wrote the letter that supposedly explains he requires it for medical reasons, told him he might want to consider insuring separately before travelling abroad.

The same exact thing happens in Italy and Spain that I know. I believe the breeding ground is similar.

Also the employee-client relationship is radically different to what people in the US, Canada or UK are used to. Generally people are polite, but in case of any sort of conflict employees are protected and the client is assumed to be wrong and told to fuck off. As opposed to "the client always being right". There must be a middle ground somewhere.

> the employee-client relationship is radically different to what people in the US, Canada or UK are used to

The closest to France I've ever come was reading "Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France but Not the French" ( http://www.amazon.com/Sixty-Million-Frenchmen-Cant-Wrong/dp/... ) and it made this point: in France, a store is considered an extension of the proprietor's home, and a customers is like a guest who has decided to drop in. He must first find the proprietor and introduce himself, and he must be on his best behavior.


...but it is entirely congruent with the point being made here.

I was in a McDonalds in Barcelona, Spain and watched the Americans in front asked to stop taking photos of the menu.

Wait what, how many UK shops do you go to?

I live in the UK. People in the UK get fired with a pat in the back. People in the continent cost a small fortune to fire unless they're under temp contracts.

Um that clearly isn't true. Temporary contracts may be less secure, but employees have considerable protections in the UK.

Considerable being a lot less still than the standard in the continent.

I prefer it here, by the way. I think the UK system is rather balanced.

The camera was not taking pictures because they were not stored.

Its is not the police's job to judge if anybody acted in self-defense or not, the job of the police is to show up(!) and restore order. Judges do the rest. Also in France.

Does this mean those places also ban people from using smartphones or normal cameras on the premises? There is no indications that Mann was actively taking pictures of strangers. And it would makes sense for a tourist to take pictures of his family at a restaurant. How are tourists normally treated when they try to take pictures of their vacation?

As I said above, you can take pictures of monuments, outdoors, and of people you know, indoors, where it makes sense (a restaurant, people at your table).

But if you try to take pictures of strangers -- anywhere -- you will generate a very aggressive reaction.

These rules are not written down so they're hard for strangers to understand; it's very possible for a tourist to feel photography is totally "free" in France when visiting tourist locations, and then find herself in the middle of a fight because she took her camera out of her bag at the wrong time in the wrong place (never in the subway for example!)

The funny thing with these kinds of "rules" / customs is that you internalize them; I can't even imagine myself taking pictures in the subway...

I was in France recently (Paris) and I took pictures all over the place with a very visible film camera - including on the train.

Of course I didn't go shooting strangers directly in their face. I think I'd you do that most anywhere people will get upset because what business do you have taking a close-up picture of a stranger without their permission? That's an intrusion just about anywhere.

At least in Paris, I found the city to be crowded with tourist snapping photos of everything. I didn't see anybody giving the slightest care. I had always imagined France to be a photo-friendly place considering the reverence for film and art and being the birthplace of photography. Perhaps I didn't see enough but, at least, it's hard for me to imagine people getting violent over photographs just based on my personal experience. Because with the amount of tourist taking pictures there would be blood running on the streets.

Out of curiosity, do your fellow countrymen not know that foreigners may not be aware of this cultural norm, or is it that they're indifferent?

I think this sentence is key:

> The funny thing with these kinds of "rules" / customs is that you internalize them; I can't even imagine myself taking pictures in the subway...

I've lived in several countries, and have inadvertently offended people in all of them. Well-travelled, educated people, who don't realise that some specific cultural norms are just that - cultural.

Why, are Americans, especially inside the two coasts, sensitive that foreigners may be not aware of their cultural norms?

The funny thing with these kinds of "rules" / customs is that you internalize them; I can't even imagine myself taking pictures in the subway...

I suppose a UK/US person would never consider it apporpriate to take photos in a bathroom for example.

I'm a US person, and on a recent trip in the US South took photos inside a (public) bathroom on more than one occasion, when I saw something entertaining. Not photos of people, of course, but there were other people in the bathroom on both occasions, and no one seemed shocked or worried.

I'm confused about how this aversion to cameras can possibly hold when nearly everyone is carrying one or more cameras at all times. Does everyone in Europe avoid using their smartphone except in the privacy of their own home? As cameras shrink and are built into pretty much everything, is this culture changing, or are products simply going to be built without cameras for the European market?

Not photos of people, of course

Exactly, "not of people (in the bathroom)". Would you take photos of people in a bathroom. If you're male, would you take photos of men at the urinal?

Does everyone in Europe avoid using their smartphone except in the privacy of their own home?

No of course not.

If you're male, would you take photos of men at the urinal?

I am male, and no, that would seem weird to me. On the other hand, I wouldn't feel that I could legitimately assault someone who was.

No of course [people don't avoid using smartphones in public]

You say "of course", but I can't figure out how universal cameras are consistent with a culture that fears cameras in public.

If a dozen people on a subway car are using smartphones (and therefore could be taking video or photos right now), how do others react?

Does the answer change when a dozen people are wearing Google Glass?

Also, why do people seem dismissive of questions like these? :)

When you're using a smartphone, you're usually pointing it towards the ground / 45° angle. You're not in a position to take good photographs of people. So others know you're not taking photos.

unless you hit record and then "check your voice mail"...

> I suppose a UK/US person would never consider it apporpriate to take photos in a bathroom for example.

Tell that to all the kids on Facebook ;-)

yes, basically if you use your smartphone to take a photo of a dish, they'll complain about it.

That's an exaggeration. I'm Belgian and recently went to France and took pictures of us enjoying our dishes. I didn't notice the personnel having an issue with that. So it is not a general rule.

But the spirit of bambax' and others' messages is true: in Europe, customer is not king and should behave in a way that pleases the shopkeepers or restaurant owners. This is more true the closer you are to the capital or the city's hot spot.

And more generally, one has to develop a sense of what is right in a particular place, not assuming that the same customs apply as in your home country. Americans don't have a good record at that, I'm afraid. As someone pointed out, you're bound to inadvertently offend people, but rushing into a place with a camera is a good way to start learning from your mistakes.

That being said, the violence displayed by this particular personnel is completely over the top and should not be tolerated, not by customers and not by law.

Depends, as always, on where you go; we avoid Paris like the plague (for assorted reasons, rudeness of owners is one of them), but in villages and small cities (south of france, belgium, netherlands, germany) I feel very much like a king. Especially if you speak the language.

> There is no indications that Mann was actively taking pictures of strangers.

Except for all the photos in the blog post.

If you actually read the post, you would see that the device would normally purge its buffer after it finished augmenting / vision processing those frames. Only because it was forcefully shut off was the data retained.

An angry rent-a-cop in the face of the person wielding the camera would not know this.

If you're willing to believe that via a malfunction he was able to get photos off, you've missed my point.

Its possible because they're there. Anything beyond that is arguing against the reality of the photos on the web page.

>They felt entitled to prevent the taking of pictures in the restaurant and felt they were being played with false official documentation.

I naturally assumed that if Mann was going to offer the documentation to defend his wearing of the special glasses, to someone in France, then he would have been prepared with a notarized official French translation (heck, he's from Canada...).

If he seriously tried to give English-only documentation -- and that was really his plan to convince people in France that his glasses were legit -- that seriously changes my opinion of the events.

He should not have needed papers at all to convince people of anything. Wearing this kind of glasses, or bearing a photo camera, in public places, like restaurants is totally legal.

And actually, official translation are horribly expensive.

You're right about not having to need them.

But as far as the translation goes, you can get forms for the country you're going to. That's how it was for Turkey, anyway. I don't know about France.

The form is multi-lingual (English/French/Turkish, in my case). The doctor fills in the forms and as long as he pays attention to the proper medical Latin words (and stamps it!) it should be fine. At least for border officials.

Still, from the lack of details in the blog post--he only refers to it as "a letter from my doctor"--whereas he painstakingly mentions every irrelevant detail in the story, I'm guessing that letter wasn't very complete, official, or even partially translated.

And while you are right that he shouldn't have needed it, trying to calm down an angry and aggressive French person by showing them a letter written in English is not very likely to improve the situation, and is indeed likely to get torn up in the process.

Which may not be right, but it's also not very smart.

He's from Canada, though. Don't they have English/French translators on every street corner, Toronto and eastward? :-P

You're not allowed to take pictures in a restaurant in France? Instagram is going to have a hard time catching on there.

Without further information I find this very hard to believe.

Laundering money through a fast food restaurant with a supply chain outside your control is a terrible idea. Franchises are required to purchase food centrally.

Q How much cash are you banking this week?

A 1,000,000 EUR

Q So you have sold 500,000 Big Macs.

A Yes

Q Can I see your invoices for 500,000 buns please?

The profit margin is not high enough for it to be worth ordering extra stock and throwing it out. The business would effectively be paying about 70% tax. That's not digestable, even to launder cash.

More plausible reasons: Running a McDonalds franchise and significantly and systematically under-reporting revenue using unauthorised suppliers. But to involve low-level staff would seem unlikely.

This isn't exactly covert surveillance. Some bored member of staff just didn't like the look of this American weirdo with a video camera for an eye, a piece of paper that he waves around and an attitude that he is entitled to buffer everything he sees anywhere in the world and then publicly blame an entire multinational for a minor, local incident. (Not my perception, but I think it likely that it was theirs.)

Whether it's money laundering or underreporting revenues, the implication is that something is awry at this McDonalds. The author is probably doing McDonald's Corp. a service by contacting them. They should address it, immediately.

Precisely. You could also put a kilo of cocaine into a cane or walker. Yet, assaulting every older/disabled person using such would be downright criminal.

Assaulting anybody is downright criminal in most jurisdictions.

They do it by withholding ketchup and other condiments. ;)

I'm almost serious, because I was in this exact McDonald's in 1998 (I'm not making this up) and was verbally abused for asking for more than the provided two packets of ketchup.

In their defense, it was Bastille Day and more than a little bit crazy in there.

So far as I am aware, turning illicit money into legitimate money at 30 cents on the dollar would be an excellent deal.

There are stories of people in the drug trade in Mexico having rooms in their houses full of cash that they cannot otherwise dispose of.

Laundering is more often 15 percent. It might go up or down based on the local market, but ex-USA has the highest price I've heard of. Once the money was in France, I'd predict more like 5-10 percent, since the hardest step (initial; moving bulk cash out in the USA thanks to effective AML controls these days) is a lot easier in Europe (fly, boat to North Africa, or drive over relative open or at least "friendly" land borders in the East and Southeast.)

Usually for businesses you use nail salons, tanning, etc which have high labor and service components to price, vs. materials.

>The profit margin is not high enough for it to be worth ordering extra stock and throwing it out.

You wouldn't have to throw it out. Sell it on to other businesses.

Sounds more Canadian to me

Dr. Steve Mann, PhD (MIT '97), PEng (Ontario), 330 Dundas Street West Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 1G5.

Actually, there was a well known Mcdonald's franchisee who had stores in the dozens who was later found out to have laundered millions through it. I don't have the case handy, but he was in what is generally known as the American South. It's hard to say what Mcdonald's region he was in, because they mix up their regions about every couple of years, and he ran stores in multiple states.

Cups and soda would be far, far more capital efficient.

I think you just showed us a glimpse of the future...

Get a burger with an extra meat patty in it. Money laundering.

unless they sell it all in soda. it's the highest profit margin you can find at such places.

but yeah, i don't think this is the best explanation. But now i can't stop picturing Ronald macdonald sitting at some backroom like vitor corleone.

I think that fails Ockham's razor.

I worked for Steve Mann about 15 years ago. Calling him the father of wearable computing is an understatement -- he was the father before it was even possible to create, and yet managed to make it happen essentially on his own a decade or more before it should have existed -- the JFK Apollo of wearables out of his own pocket.

However, he is probably not the least suspicious person when dealing with stupid rule following automatons -- a true hacker in that way. If anyone could make slightly scared and overly paranoid security guys worried, it is probably Steve. Super friendly if you engage with him, but not going to err on the side of social graces over pushing tech forward.

I am pretty sure this was an honest ignorant understanding by some worried people and sort of emphasized out of proportion -- I remember a similar incident at Boston Airport.

Tearing up someone's documentation is never an "honest ignorant understanding by some worried people".

Dr Mann also says P1 "angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head", which is also not consistent with an honest mistake.

More likely started as reasonable concern (or at least plausibly understandable), compounded with ignorance and machismo into stupidity and wrongness.

McDonalds should apologize, but I don't think it was a conspiracy.

The incident at Logan airport was big news in Boston in 2007. It involved an MIT undergraduate wearing a piece of art on the front of her shirt that consisted of a circuit board and LED attached to a battery. It freaked out some airport staff, and the Massachusetts State Police came very close to shooting her:


Different incident from the Steve Mann airport incident. I actually think the Star Simpson incident was caused by her bring really clueless about how paranoid airport security are, getting a dumb guy scared, and then being as rude to security as many civil libertarians can be. (Star is also a friend of mine, and I think she is a lot less likely to almost get killed by security now too :)

I don't understand the benefit to ever being anything but polite to suthority, even while resisting (legally or beyond legally, depending on how important the issue is to you). I "opt out" of rapescans all the time, and am polite, and the whole interaction goes fairly well. (I think it is security theater, but invasive pat downs aren't always inappropriate; just when there is not enough benefit. I'd draw that line as search incident to arrest based on RS and PC developed normally -- just being a passenger on a flight doesn't make you all that much more likely to be a terrorist). Protest in court, in congress, on the Internet, and during the incident, but don't be threatening or rude.

Whenever the Star Simpson incident comes up, I'm surprised how quick people are to blame her. From the accounts I've read, I don't thing she did anything wrong, or even suspicious. (Contrary to reports, the "suspicious substance" in her had was a hardened clay sculpture, not something that could be reasonably mistaken for a block of explosive.)

Since you say she's a friend of yours and might know more details, I'm curious what you think she did wrong.

When airport security told her to jump, she neglected to ask, "How high?"

That's funny how wires + blinking led => detonator, something you knead in your hand => C4, cute youg girl with bleached hair => suicide bomber

Osama achieved million times more than what he would have dreamed of.

But this McDonald's is located at 140, Avenue Champs Élysées! It is arguably the one at the most prestigious location in the whole France. This is just one block away from the Arc de Triomphe, on Paris's most famous avenue. I have eaten there myself: http://goo.gl/maps/ofMu

I highly doubt it is a front for a shady business. It would be like claiming the Apple store next to Central Park, New York City, is a front...

Exactly. I think there are several other equally plausible explanations as to why this particular McDonald's would have security to prevent video surveillance.

It is also next to a number of the finest luxury retailers in the world...

... customers of which are highly unlikely to ever wander into a McDonalds, regardless of its location.

I was actually suggesting they were protecting the neighbors from a potential highly sophisticated criminal mastermind casing the joint to conduct an Ocean's 11 style vault heist of the property next door by drilling through the wall, but I didn't know how to communicate that ;)

I agree. Rich folks don't go to McDonalds too often. However in Europe the brand is perceived a bit differently

The US middle to upper class generally seems to look down at McDonalds as being a place where the poor, fat, or simply lazy go to eat. That's just not the case in other countries.

I can only speak for Paris and Tokyo, and the very upper class may not eat there, but nobody else has a problem with it. It's not just American tourists keeping them in business.

You are taking it out of context. Point being that no celebrity worthy of videotaping would ever be spotted at McDonalds. So their crackdown on video cameras is unrelated to the proximity to the luxury shopping area.

If a customer was treated like this in an Apple store, you wouldn't call it a front, but it would be really strange. If a customer was treated this way in an Apple store, and Apple franchised their stores, and the owner of the franchise controlled the staffing, the argument would be valid. Apple and McDonald's can't really be compared the same way in the context of Paul's suggestion.

So if we swap around a few of the particulars -- say, make the guy with the camera black, relocate the scene to the deep South, and then make the three perpetrators good old boys -- a fairly plausible hypothesis would rush to mind, even if it is outside the experience of the typical white American at the typical McDonalds. Mafia fronts certainly exist in the world, but they are probably greatly outnumbered by petty people who, given authority over someone they dislike (+), would abuse it if it were consequence-free.

+ It isn't even necessary to assume that the language barrier or anti-Americanism had anything to do with it. I mean, even in the deep South, a good old boy might try to rip a prosthesis off a black guy's head just because he doesn't like "weird Treky shit."

You could also get a plausible explanation if you make the three employees drug-addled miscreants and the man with the glasses a vulnerable woman carrying and displaying large amounts of cash and the setting a back alley in Dubai.

This story is strange precisely because it is not a scenario where an explanation springs to mind. People are known to be petty and cruel to the point of assault, but people who are employees of a company like McDonald's in a city like Paris are not.

Just so we are all on the same page, the males look of distinct North-African extraction - Algerian, Moroccan, Egyptian or Libyan.

Just so we're all on the same - very ignorant - page, are you talking race in 2012? Come on, todays French are a big mix of whatever. This mix is what is French.

It happened at few times too me that I experienced quite a 'macho' or aggressive behaviour 'from people of those cultures'. What would you expect, just be quiet?

This getting ridiculous.

I've experienced aggressive behaviour from a lot of white Australians. Should I make a judgement of the entire population based on those anecdotal experiences?

Aggression is everywhere, it has very little to do with your cultural heritage unless you're a bloody Spartan.

If you want don't want to be quiet about your racial prejudices, go find a forum for it. There should be plenty of mindless goons out there willing to discuss it with you. Try the youtube comments section.

"it has very little to do with your cultural heritage unless you're a bloody Spartan."

The fact that you acknowledge that there exists a culture whose adherents are more prone to be adversarial means you accept OP's point.

No, it means my example is the exception, not the rule. Nice try.

What's more likely: There is only one or few exceptions to the rule and it's binary or there is a continuum.

It's France. They're French.

There are a lot of Moroccans in Paris, from what I understand. Wasn't that what those riots a few years back were about? The Moroccans immigrating but not integrating?

Well, the more people wonder whether French of Moroccan extraction really are French or Moroccan, the less French they are.

I'm French, of no extraction. Please stop. French of Moroccan extraction are French.

Regarding the riots, that's also not relevant to the discussion but because you ask, those riots where the results of 40 years of bad policies, social rejection and latent racism.

Although I agree with you on principle, most Moroccans in Europe identify as Moroccan first and French/Dutch/Belgian second.

Also, since they are not "allowed" to disavow their Moroccan nationality, virtually all Moroccans remain Moroccan, even in later generations.

Lots of British people consider themselves British first, European second. Or Welsh people consider themselves Welsh first, British second. People from Catalonia, may not consider themselves Spanish. Someone born in Ireland to Irish parents, but lived all their life in England might consider themselves Irish, not English.

Europe. It's a melting pot, always has been. There are lots of flexible definitions of nationality.

Its not useful to include the British to imbue some meaning to the conversation. I single out British because although they claim to a governance described as unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy they have some of the most decidedly backward understandings on race (esp race-based-class), ethnic origins (Highlanders vs rest), religious denominations (Protestant-Catholic strife) & the concept of nationhood in all of the western world. For such a modern society their outlook on these matters is striking and confused. For a nation that made its business to civilize more than half the world at one time, she shows some forbiddingly contradicting understandings on these matters.

Wow, you're kind of on a roll here.

> their outlook on these matters is striking and confused

Specifically are you referring to the outlook of politicians, the media, or some other entity? I know you started with 'the British' but surely you're not making sweeping generalisations about the 60 million people who live in the UK. That would be a wee bit racist don't you think?

It's not their identity but their nationality that is seen as an issue by the op.

Identity in social science is a complex matter and trying to attack it with "most" is at best inaccurate. Please read the article on identity negotiation which will shed light to the picture.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_negotiation

PS: I'm not RTFM-ing you, it's just a topic that I'm not qualified to address myself, even though I know it's complex.

huh. I thought that France didn't have birthright citizenship like the US has. I thought they had a system more like what some of the more radical right wing parties in the US want, where your parent's status has something to do with it, you know, to prevent 'anchor babies.' Hm. According to the wikipedia[1], it's complicated, and I strongly suspect I'm missing some things. It looks to me like they have a 'right of blood' system until you reach the age of majority, then something a little more like a 'right of soil' system after that. I don't know about everyone, but I started working rather before I reached the age of majority. I mean, I wouldn't have starved, but my education would have been severely dampened if i was not able to get legal work until I was 18.



>It's quite simple actually : you're french if you're born on french soil or if one of your parents was french.

according to the wikipedia (which, of course, is not always correct) that is not an or but an and (at least, until the age of majority.) Even assuming that the wikipedia is correct in this case, there is a big difference between automatically gaining citizenship on your 18th birthday, and having a 'path to citizenship' and I have no idea where France is on that continuum.


Well, it has changed a lot, but you've got it. The Code civil articles 19 to 19-4 states that you are not French by birthright. If you were born in France, you become French at the age of 18 (automatically, no question asked) if you have lived at least 5 years (no need to continuity) in France since you're 11 (21-7 Code civil). And you can renounce to your french nationality in the 12 months after the automatic acquisition (until your 19 or the moment at which you join the military). For now, there is some shit about "path to citizenship" in the French law... but it's for adults asking the French nationality.

But, you can ask for the French nationality before, as early as the age of 13, if you lived there the 5 preceding years. The difference is the automaticity, at 18 it's automatic, before that it's on request.

And under 18, everyone has more or less the same rights, not withstanding the nationality.

In America, many of what I would call the far right are advocating a similar system whereby you aren't granted citizenship at birth if your parents are not citizens, but gain it later on in order to fight "anchor babies" - the idea being that right now, if you are "undocumented" and you have a kid on US soil, the kid is an American right away, and sure, if you are a citizen, your mom can stay and take care of you, and as part of that, your mom gains a reasonable path to citizenship. (US immigration policy seems to be centred around uniting families.)

My reading of the French law makes it look like it would solve this "problem" as the kid isn't french, so you can deport the kid and their parents. Out of curiosity, am I reading that right? that if two undocumented immigrants have a kid and the authorities deport the newborn and the parents and manage keep them out of the country until the kid is 18, the kid is not french at all, even though she was born on french soil?

You are actually right, the European take on immigration is awfully right winged when compared to American... It's due to the way these nations built themselves. US is a country of immigration, it literally constructed itself upon it. While Europe is a place of emigration, immigrants always were looked upon as strangers lurking around. But France also being a latin country, kept something of the Right of the Soil, mixed with the Right of the Blood from northern and eastern European people.

So it's quite bastard... problematic.

Your reading is quite unfortunately not totally correct. A child born or not in France is in theory undeportable, even if their parents are from Mars or undocumented (which seems to be the same to some people...). Actually, under 18 it's impossible to be undocumented... because there is no document to authorize a child to live in France, they all have naturally this right. No visa, nothing.

EXCEPT (there always a fucking horrible exception), if you came into France without requesting a Visa (that is not needed... but you must request it... go figure...) and entered France coming from another state of the European Union (thanks EU for your horrible immigration law). Then the kid can be sent back to the EU country he came from... which is free to deport the kid if the law of this country allow it. (Well except if he came into France without parents... then he is not deportable again).

But then the worse is to come. If the parents are undocumenteds... well, their kid is not deportable... but they are. It's been a long time France dealt with the "anchor babies"... and in the most hypocrite way. So the parents have a choice : Go with their children, or abandon their children... I kid you not. And I let you imagine what most of parents end up deciding... And no, the answer is not what most fox news talk show hosts would think, since they think that these parents only have those children to have documents. It's sad... but we have problems with the far right since much longer than you... the damage they've done to our law is staggering.

So the final answer is yes. A kid of undocumenteds born in France, can be deported (""""at his parents choice""""), and then he will not be able to respect the 5 years requirements, and not be French at all.

I hope the actual administration is going to change something about that... but well.. I know the won't.

Another interesting fact is how France borders Brazil.

my point is that without birthright citizenship, the whole "who is french" thing has... more to do with "extraction" than an American might think.

(Of course, the next guy down says I'm wrong about the French citizenship rules, which I may be, of course.)

  > the more people wonder whether French of Moroccan
  > extraction really are French or Moroccan, the less
  > French they are
I'm not saying that it's right to try and exclude them. It's just as stupid as the people in American that want to shutdown immigration to 'dirty foreigners' (forgetting that their ancestors were 'dirty foreigners'). Someone that was originally from Morocco shouldn't be consider 'less French' than someone whose ancestors have been in France for generations, but you can't force this to happen by pretending that people have no past (i.e. country of origin).

Maybe the term 'French-Moroccan' has bad cultural connotations in France that you're trying to get rid of by burying the term, but the term itself, or the facts surrounding it are not inherently bad. If someone is "Chinese-American" or "Japanese-Canadian" or "Mexican-American", the term doesn't make them any less American/Canadian.

  > Regarding the riots, that's also not relevant to the
  > discussion but because you ask, those riots where the
  > results of 40 years of bad policies, social rejection
  > and latent racism.
I only bring up the riots with respect to where I got the information that Paris has a large French-Moroccan population.

The "country of origin" is very debatable. I consider myself Uruguayan because I was born here, but my great-grandparents were German. However, someone in Tuscany was asked, and he said "my family has only been here for four centuries". Should someone like Zidane be considered French, or "French of Algerian extraction"?

By the tuscanian's perspective, there are no Americans, only "American of Irish extraction" and so on, while over here we all consider ourselves Uruguayans.

Something you don't understand is that those terms ("Chinese-American") are an US cultural thing.

Many of my fellow countrymen (I'm from Uruguay) are extremely shocked when they go to the U.S. ... we've learned about at most 3 races, and you people have 16 !!! One of my teachers likes an anecdote where, when filling a form at San Diego University, he had to ask the clerk what "race" he was - the clerk decided he was "Hispanic", and then there was a sub-category "White Hispanic" or "Black Hispanic". However, he's descendant from Spaniards and probably the exact same racial composition as racists from California that despise "hispanics" (there was a genocide here in Uruguay and we don't have native blood, we're all descendants of spaniards, italians and other european countries, plus some descendants of slaves).

> San Diego University

Which? We have several, none of which is called "San Diego University."

University of San Diego (http://www.sandiego.edu)

I didn't realize that changing it to San Diego University would change its meaning, sorry (and I didn't realize you had more than one either).

I don't know which form he filled, but I found plenty on Google:



etcetera, etcetera.

> It's just as stupid as the people in American that > want to shutdown immigration to 'dirty foreigners' > (forgetting that their ancestors were 'dirty foreigners').

That is a gross mis-characterization of the American attitude on immigration. Americans don't want to "shut down" immigration. We Americans take pride in our diversity of heritage and our openess to those who want to come to our country and be an American. Our objection is to people who come here illegaly. We object to those who come here and thumb their nose at the law, draw benefits from our government (and therefore depriving legal citizens of those benefits) and overwhelm our system.

The reason I or anyone else would have, to bring up their ancestry is because of the apparent disconnect between the essential Frenchness one expects and the consistently abrasive conduct of some of these implanted peoples. Take Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCXtmmj7fJc Isolated incident? Perhaps. Not part of a larger trend? Maybe. After all the cake and watermelon, we know that it doesn't add up. We all want to pretend that it ain't what it really is. Just like we find ourselves aghast at Marine Le Pen picking up enough seats to front the third largest party in all of France in well under a decade.

For insults, please refer to the other comment at the same level (which I upvoted and support).

I'll go even further and state that people like you are responsible for the situation. I live abroad and can tell you that latent racism kills all the respect I could otherwise have for Thai people. I'm not silly so I'll move back to France in the coming months (as a direct result of the above). Unfortunately for them, French of foreign extraction don't have the opportunity I have. I'd forgive them if they burnt the bulk of Paris: they are human beings and are being bullied by a society as a whole.

"Essential Frenchness"? What does that even mean?

What The Actual Fuck?

HN is no place for a racist dick. Kindly fuck off.

[edited to add - I expect downvotes or even a ban for my language. I will find a way of coping with my grief, so don't worry about it]

It's also no place for gratuitously throwing around words like fuck and dick. Try extending your vocabulary.

What does the size of one's vocabulary have to do with whether you use expletives?

Sorry, I know this is off-topic, but I've never really understood the "only uneducated people use swearwords" argument.

I'd take it to mean the size of one's vocabulary in practice, not just the words s/he knows. There's obviously still no necessary implication that a swearer's vocab usage is worse than that of a non-swearer.

Strict logic aside, though, I've anecdotally observed that folks who swear publicly among people they don't know tend to swear easily and often, and given the inherent flexibility of most swear words, I think it's fair to say increased usage usually takes a toll on eloquence and creativity in diction. The relationship isn't necessary, but it's intuitive and observably common.

Interesting ideas, but I'm not convinced by your last point.

Amongst the people I know who swear with reasonable frequency, I don't see any correlation with lack of eloquence. Indeed, I can think without trying very hard think of published authors, professional screenwriters and famous Shakespearean actors who would fit into the "uses profanity reasonably casually" description.

Oh, I don't mean swearing and eloquence are mutually exclusive.

But eloquence isn't binary; it lives on a gradient. Where there's a common, monosyllabic, four-letter word, it could be displacing another with a fair likelihood of being more interesting.

In fact, I'd argue your Shakespearean actors are far more likely to be making a compromise than an ineloquent person who'd otherwise drop the modifier or use a simplistic alternative.

So they're not rendered ineloquent as people, of course; but less eloquent than they'd be without that crutch.

Some educated people reel in horror at the thought that they aren't all that different from normal people aside from the number of things they've crammed into their head.

Whatever "Essential Frenchness" is, it most certainly is not centered around the milieu of the "beur". We agree that visitors don't come to France to be greeted by the likes of Galliano but they don't come looking for the likes of Salafists like Mohammed Merah either. Get your act together before its too late. You can only sweep these things under the rug for so long.

There's only one thing I'm sure of. Visitors coming to France certainly don't visit to meet your likes.

Certainly they prefer to be friendly accommodated guests in a Parisian McDonalds... (not that I find it a good idea to eat in McDonalds at all, especially when having the option of French cuisine..;)

Spent 2 weeks in France. The first week was spent partaking in the various options of French cuisine. With that first week being torturous, the second week was spent eating at McDonalds. At least the McD's there sells beer. :)

What I find elusive is this polite society's fevered need to stomp down any finger-pointing in the direction of certain sections of society. If one were to take a look at their irrational phobia of discussion concerning these sensitive topics it would appear that this brand of furiousness at the very mention of something disagreeable is nothing but an outward veneer to fend off further pointed & valid accusations. It's weak weaponry. It shows you're on tenuous ground. It almost always indicates that you're defending the indefensible. That you're arguments are at best propped up by popular sentiments and not by objective observations. That anything found objectionable by the educated segments of a society is necessarily odious despite the facts.

'Valid accusations'? You gave an example of one person being obnoxious and used it to condemn all others of the same origin. It is profoundly unscientific and illogical to build an argument the way you have.

Essentially you are admitting that you are racist and tired of being dismissed as such. You mention that our points are baseless and ignore tangible facts (which you have by the way failed to provide) and I'd like to bring to your attention that this is basically what racists are commonly accused of.

I would like you to understand that when in doubt and facing two choices one should always prefer what favours human beings over any sort of ideology or other minor consideration; no matter the price (I mean it this way).

But I find your way of reversing things funny and will dismiss you as being a troll and wish you good luck on your road. It's certainly a difficult one.

cultural translation: There's a lot of Africans in the USA, isn't there some trouble with them not integratating into the mainstream culture? :P

The closer comparison would be to say that there are a lot of Iraqis in Dearborn, or Vietnamese in Mississippi.

Though there are also many French of Algerian extraction.

I'm of South African 'extraction', but you wouldn't know unless you asked me.

I don't see how it's relevant.

Do they? How can you tell with their face obscured?

I took this picture in a Paris McDonalds about 2 weeks ago (near the Hotel de Ville, not the Champs Elysees location): http://cl.ly/image/1g1b3Q0j152V

Notice that the employee is covering her face. She yelled at me after I took the pic - "you can't take pictures here!". Why was she upset? Well in my case the girl covering her face in the pic was very pretty, I took it that she might be a fashion model or aspiring actress. When I ordered her co-worker was very pretty as well and was wearing what was obviously a wig.

Just a hunch, but the Paris McDonalds might offer their employees protection against cameras from tourists to protect the identity of their employees.

Edit: also found this article, this case does not seem to correlate with my hunch - motivated by menus / prices: http://www.pixiq.com/article/woman-claims-she-was-assaulted-...

Not sure if there is anything to this, but from what I've heard, privacy laws in France are more strict than in the US, for example. That's in theory, in practice, not many people actually care. On the other hand, some do.

Also, in theory, if you shoot with a tripod, you would need to obtain permission from a ministry somewhere, but in practice, you will seldom get bothered by the police.

In any event, photographing people in public places in France will get you more dirty looks than they would in London or NYC, for example --even if most times you will not get any reaction.

Look up Droit d'image, as it concerns France.


> even if most times you will not get any reaction

Oh yes you will. They will shout at you and some may try to take your camera.

Lots of people would be upset if you took their photograph without asking. It's a bit discourteous.

I have never met any of these people; not at events, not at parties, not on vacation (to numerous countries). Where are these 'lots of people' besides at McDonalds France apparently? Most people I know would 'strike a pose' when someone takes a picture, even if they don't know the someone.

Note; I don't take pictures, but to get upset about it; isn't that a bit over the top? You could kindly ask to refrain but actually spend energy and get upset for something so unimportant.

If you're at a party or event, having people take pictures is often expected (but not always) and so people will not generally have a problem with it. If someone happens to catch you while taking a general street scene or on the beach, its expected you might end up in their photo.

But if someone pulls a camera and specifically aim it at you, on the other hand?

I'd be pissed off too, as it is something that I'd see as extremely rude for someone to specifically target me for pictures without informing me about why they are targeting me specifically. But I've never had it happen, nor have I've been around other people who have had it happen to them, exactly because in the parts of Europe I've spent most of my life, it's pretty much considered totally unacceptable. People who want to take pictures of specific people generally do come up and ask.

Depending on context I might very well confront them about why they were doing it, and might very well be quite angry.

> Note; I don't take pictures, but to get upset about it; isn't that a bit over the top? You could kindly ask to refrain but actually spend energy and get upset for something so unimportant.

It's highly culturally and contextually dependent. If someone starts taking pictures of you specifically in the street somewhere where taking pictures of strangers is considered unusual and rude, there's every reason to wonder why someone is prepared to break strong social norms to single you out and somehow don't want to ask you first.

If you're somewhere where everyone expects to be photographed, on the other hand, and the typical purpose is known, most people will happily accept it, or stay away.

I see what you mean, but still, it wouldn't upset me unless he/she is a stalker and I find him/her taking pics of me on regular basis singling me out. For just a one time snap in the street specially focused at me by a complete stranger I wouldn't even think twice about it. It happened to me in southern/middle america countries as i'm really big and bearded so in the middle of Guatemala city I would attract attention.

But why would you be pissed off exactly? I mean I understand you don't 'like it', but why the strong emotion. EU people are pretty open minded (I'm from the EU) and I am just surprised about the emotion level here. Whether I 'agree' or not; it seems so overkill.

You need to try this stunt in France then because you are totally misguided about "most people." I've had scared reactions from people in front of me just for looking at my own camera's pictures.

The climate in France is that people should not get photographed without their permission. Even further, some claim that taking photos of their house is too much. So the whole atmosphere is a by-default hostility to photographers, which should be extra careful.

There's a lot of money-laundering fast food franchises. I remember a KFC in Baltimore where the skeleton crew that manned it were barely familiar with the menu, and maintained a largely empty parking lot at all times in what I would imagine to be prime chicken-flogging real estate (it was my neighborhood.)

They got a bit of unwanted attention a few years after I moved away when a junkie died in the single-occupancy bathroom and nobody noticed for three days.

edit: found it - http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-12-19/news/0012190192_...

But why would the Mafia care if you took photos? Money laundering would happen behind the scenes, in the accountants office.

Definitely agree that something is shady though. Not sure what, but this reminds me of a recent article on 'The Big Mac' index, which is used as an alternative measure of inflation. Perhaps McDonald's is under orders by the French government to prevent people from taking photos of their menus (and consequently their burger prices) to hide serious inflation problems. ;)

On a side note, if you are going to be in Paris on vacation, the food capital of the world, why the hell are you eating at McD's?

France's McDonald's operates like an entirely different restaurant [1].

[1] http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/01/24/145698222/why-mc...

it's not a 'French McD' thing. There are also McCafes in Berlin and I believe lots of other places, they are not regular McDonalds and they oparate aside existing 'normal' McD restaurants. The one on Kurfurstendamm in Berlin is a friendly cozy place filled with books and vintage pictures, nice place to sit for a few minutes just like any other cafe. Nearby there is the classic burger-smelly McD with long queues.

> why the hell are you eating at McD's?


all the more reason to avoid the hole: why would such a smart guy take kids to ESAD?

But why would the Mafia care if you took photos? Money laundering would happen behind the scenes, in the accountants office.

In order to launder money you need to pretend you have more customers than you do have. A good way for the police/tax man to catch you is to record your business to prove that you don't have that many customers.

Surely the police could find a better way to do it than send in a guy with a camera-eye for lunch one time?

Franchise restaurants are terrible avenues for money laundering because of all the internal controls put in place by the parent company. Cash registers are linked directly back to central servers under control of the parent company, so that the franchisee does not gain an opportunity to skim on the revenue share that is passed back up.

The same tight controls put in place by the parent org to assure they receive their full revenue share, and so that they can monitor store sales, inventory demand, and all the other good things that come with instant centralized sales info etc. etc. also prevent money laundering as a side effect.

Further, both McDonalds stores on the Champs-Elysees are corporate owned and operated. McDonalds in France has a high rate of corporate store ownership and operation compared to other countries (20% in France compared to 15% globally) because of a previous bad experience with the national franchisee (it was fought out in a court battle[1]) and that store being a marquee store for the brand in Europe.

My only theory as to why this happen is that the staff were confronted with a situation that they were not accustomed to dealing with and that caused them to react poorly. McDonalds is a highly controversial company and because of their profile they are constantly being targeted by individuals, groups and the media (see 'supersize me', 'fast food nation', 'mclibel' etc.). The security at this store may have mistaken this visitor, who had a camera attached to his glasses which could be considered 'hidden', with somebody who was looking to expose the restaurant in some way.

[1] http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/12/business/mcdonald-s-tries-...

In high school I worked in a McDonalds. There was actually a poster in the back that said cameras were not allowed on the property. This was around the time of 'Supersize Me'.

I don't remember exactly what the instructions said employees were supposed to do. I believe it was asking people to leave and refer them to McDonalds corporate PR for requests to take pictures. It definitely didn't say assault them.

Clearly these guys were acting way outside of what McDonalds intended for them to do, but I think McDonalds' silly 'no cameras' policy might have incited them.

Those policies seem to be so that journalists don't go taking pictures on their own, but go through PR channels.

Seems rather tin-hatty. Is it not more likely that, being next to L'Arc de Triomphe, they simply have extra security for anti-terrorism purposes, and that's why they attacked the guy who was recording everything? I recall a similar incident at Disneyland after 9/11.

These guys even look like private security contractors, and their actions are more easily explained by the mindset endemic in that field than by criminal conspiracy.

It's not an ordinary McDonald's; it's the McDonald's in Paris next to the Arc de Triomphe. Given its location next to one of Paris's largest tourist attractions, it probably serves a much larger number of customers per day than most other McDonald's locations, and it's a potential target for anti-American sentiment. These could both be reasons for enhanced security, although I'm not sure why they'd mind cameras. (OTOH, I'm also not sure why they'd mind cameras if it were a mafia front, since presumably all of the illegal things happen behind closed doors.)

Are you enacting Poe's law? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poes_law

I seriously cannot tell, and you didn't wink at the end?

Since McDonald's are easily franchise-able, I suppose they could legitimately be used as a Mafia Front... But really, Poe's Law? wink ;)

This is what came to my mind as well. I can't decide whether or not the comment is supposed to be serious.

On one hand, I can't think of many above-board reasons that a restaurant employee would tackle you for having a tiny camera, or rip up medical documentation. On the other hand, the jump straight to a mafia seems a leap too far. Yet if we are going to speculate, I don't see a criminal explanation as significantly more plausible than others.

To demonstrate one of my own: Perhaps they'd recently had a bad rating/inspection from the French/Parisian health department (replace with proper name), and were really worried about some undercover story by local news stations. A bit extreme to use physical intimidation, but perhaps the manager is on the verge of losing the place?

Three other ideas:

What about French laws related to health (are they like NYC and trying to enforce health policy through food ingredient restrictions?) Could that be something they would not want getting out by accident?

What about French labor or immigration law? Could there be some violation that they didn't want documentary evidence of?

McDonald's as a corporation protects the intellectual property of their operations with great effort (but usually in the court of law--as when a manager might try to start their own burger place using the official playbook). Not sure what competitive advantage he could get from a few minutes in the store, though.

But all of these really hinge on the employees thinking that the wearer a) wasn't a government official or inspector (confrontation would just bring more heat and/or b) that the wearer was of lower or weaker status. Mall cop enforcing a poorly understood "no pictures of the mall" policy over-zealously seems like the most likely case--maybe rooted in anti-terrorism paranoia.

(Or else maybe the guy made the mistake of ordering a Royale with Cheese and these employees were not Tarantino fans...)

Most sensible explanation so far. It accounts for why they would be worried about hidden, automatic cameras much more than the ones regular tourists have, where you can see when they're taking a picture or getting a good video angle. Also, most tourists don't take pictures of what's going on behind the counter, so you can catch someone trying to overtly do that, but a hidden camera would make that harder to spot, leading management to be more paranoid about built-in cameras.

On top of that, "concern about the health department" has a much higher prior probability than "mafia collusion with major fast food chain".

What does strike me as odd is that it seems pretty likely that a McDonald's at tourist central would have to have a lot of pictures taken of it and in it and around it. It seems like that wouldn't even come close to being unusual.

Granted, not usually by someone with the camera literally attached to his head.

I thought I was saying the same thing: that yes, tourists are expected to be everywhere at the McDonald's, taking pictures, but if they start to do it in a strange way (i.e., target the "boring" stuff in the kitchen), or have stuff that looks like a hidden camera, then management may freak out.

Page is down, but doesn't Occam's Razor handle this situation adequately? He ran into a random violent asshole. It can happen anywhere at any time to anyone.

I like this explanation too. What's odd though is the other accounts of similar experiences at Paris McDonalds'. (Is it the same one?)

But it wasn't a random violent asshole. It was three violent assholes which doesn't seem random to me.

Actually Perp-3 wasn't violent, as far as I could tell from the story. I think he mainly called him "perpetrator" because he was close, stood around, didn't do anything and seemed to be okay with what happened.

And of the other two, Perp-1 seemed to have been the manager, while Perp-2 was a customer (judging by the shades in his hair, and the "meal" in front of him).

I'm guessing the customer felt paranoid from the camera and complained to the manager.

It only takes one random violent asshole in a position of authority to incite his underlings. That might not be the whole explanation, but the fact there were three of them doesn't mean much in a situation where one of them is likely to be in charge of the others.

That's because, like the majority of people, you are probably quite bad at understanding both randomness, and the normal behaviour of violent assholes.

Um, sir, I have more than a layman's understanding of randomness, thank you very much. This is Hacker News; all kinds of people post here.

I'm not even sure what you mean by "random" in this case; we're talking about one event. I didn't say anything about the distribution of violent assholes in McDonalds or France in general. It certainly wasn't "random" when the first violent guy brings over other employees who happened to also be violent. I don't know about France, but in the US, there are strict laws on what a commercial establishment can do to get someone off the premises. Now, mafia-run operations aside, most places would just ask you to leave and threaten to call the cops if you remain.

Was just meaning that randomness tends to be clumpy and that violent assholes are more likely to be violent assholes when there are a few of them around, so the fact that they were three of them does not particularly decrease the chance of it being a random incident in comparison to there only being one violent asshole.

McDonald's are not really "easily" franchisable. You can't just write a check and buy a McDonald's franchise. You have to be an owner-operator, not an owner-investor. You have to go through crew training, learn all the positions, work as a shift manager, and go to Hamburger University among other things (in addition to having the money), before you are granted a franchise.

A much more plausible explanation of a story posted by a newly created account to a popular tech aggregator about a technology which competes with (and possibly pre-dates) Google Glass, with a picture of Google Glass on the same page, is that a patent [1] suit is about to break out.

A cynic might think they were trying to harvest accesses from internal to Google IP addresses so that as of today they could show 'knowable infringement' aka treble damages.

[1] http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sec...

If I wanted to show that my technology wasn't "super freaky out there" (which he could easily be accused of by people who don't slurp up Google press releases every day), what better way than to show that it looks almost identical to something that the all-trusted Google is going to be selling in the near future?

It is possible I'm not cynical enough, but if I were trying to gain sympathy for my cyborg-prosthetic plight, the more I could relate it to things people are already comfortable with, the better.

I think the simplest answer is the most likely: That franchise has bumped prices up above what McD's corp allows for and/or has figured out a way to game the computers so they are underreporting their revenue and thus are paying much less in franchise fees than they should be. Given its prime tourism spot, people don't complain, but if pictures got back to corporate, there would be problems.

My thoughts exactly, though my sentiment is that Steve Mann deserves some thought from Glass engineers.

I've been following his work for some years (decades) now, and while he is an "interesting" person, he has made many leaps in both design and tech involved, as well as testing.

Absolutely, the guy is a frickin' genius!

All I know is we have three things:

1) A patent for the 'eyetrap' issued in 2003 with another 8 years or so to run.

2) A huge company with > $100B in the bank who has made a big publicity play betting on their technology that, on the surface clearly infringes.

3) No statements either from either party that a license is in place. In fact the Google Glass page should say "this device is covered by patents ..." but it doesn't.

If in fact no license exists, I see a table in the square with between 100M$ and a 1B$ sitting on it with nobody watching. I would not be surprised in the least that someone decided to try and take it off the table.

Time will tell.

>A huge company with > $100B in the bank

Google doesn't have > $100B in the bank (citation: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bs?s=goog+Balance+Sheet). You are probably thinking of Apple.

Your right they have been spending big chunks of late (I believe the Motorola deal recently closed so that 12B check had to clear the bank eventually).

I continue to believe that Google is perceived to be a 'high value' target by offensive litigators.

The technology used in eyetrap and Google's glasses is sufficiently different that I doubt the eyetrap patent is really being infringed by Google. I doubt Steve has the money or desire to take Google to court anyway, and probably holds the patent as a defensive measure against himself being sued by someone like Google.

Sort of FYI, plaintiff lawyers in the US may choose to work on a contingency basis if they think there is a big payoff at the end, no cost to the plaintiff, just let them sue on your behalf and they are off to the races.

I don't know about you, but that seems a good deal more implausible than a restaurant being run by a mob.

And other stuff that raises flags for me.

First the original article was deep-linked into the eyetap.org site. Which is to say it didn't appear as a link on the front page, in fact I didn't find any inlinks to it until this story broke and those are from blogs etc. And it was posted by an account created to post that one link on HN (not like Dr. Mann or someone who regularly participates here stumbled across it and tried to link it.)

Now if Dr. Mann had a running blog about life as a cyborg or his thoughts on wearable computing, and this just happened to come up in that blog as "Oh the saddest thing happened ..." then it might feel more natural. It has since been converted to a one-entry wordpress blog.

As I've said elsewhere, we'll see what the next steps are. Eyetap has certainly gotten a lot of publicity out of the deal so I expect the press will follow up on any fallout here as well.

The resemblance between Google Glass and his "Glass" is striking, but the use of the comparative picture and the emphasis on the similarity of the name is at odds with the main thrust of article describing the alleged assault, suggesting an ulterior motive.

A patent suit is always going to break out these days, in anything even remotely connected with mobile computing, so the correlation there isn't very strong.

[edit] The current pace of litigation seems to be leading towards some form of Kessler Syndrome - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome - but made of patents instead of orbital debris, that will finally result in all courtrooms in the world discussing nothing but technical IP cases.

I've looked into how McDonalds franchises work before and have learned about money laundering from Breaking Bad: how would using a franchise make sense? McDonalds (and most other franchise businesses) run very tight ships with stock (and marketing): if a business sells 100 burgers McDonalds is going to know, it seems that if suspicions were ever aroused with this McDonalds all the IRS (or whatever the french tax authority is called) would need to do is talk to McDonalds and compare what the franchise reports to McDonalds vs. what their accounts show?

You throw out the merchandise with the highest profit margins while reporting fake sales.

Bars are traditionally popular for money laundering because everyone pays in cash, liquor has absolutely insane mark-up, and it's really easy to pour it down the drain. I imagine a fastfood restaurant would not work as well, but who knows.

Plus if you're not automatically controlling portions, a bottle of liquor can have a very wide range of plausible drinks-sold-per-bottle. Probably by a factor of two or so.

Exactly. You can easily get a few hundred dollars from a single bottle if you do it right. Just think of all those 10-15 USD mixed drinks that have maybe a shot or two of booze in them.

But then you'd have to account for the mixers.

Yes, depending on the drink. You could probably safely forge the accounting for that stuff though, and if not, that stuff is ultra cheap anyway. Soda-water, ice, fruit, etc could all be pretty much ignored.

My brother was in a bar once where he ordered a shot of whisky and it came in at about 4-5 oz or so. Maybe it was money laundering?

it's really easy to pour it down the drain

Or sell it on the black market.

and have learned about money laundering from Breaking Bad...


While I agree, that doesn't really effect their point.

Breaking bad is not a source for research.

It is possible. There are many reasons people may have been nervous around cameras. They may have been doing a number of illegal or semi-illegal things, like dealing drugs, embezzling something or other, or even cheating on time-sheets.

And none of the above are that hard to believe. Drug deals especially happen all over the place and all the time.

Call me crazy, but operating the highest profile McDonald's franchise in Europe is probably not the first thing I'd consider if I needed to launder some money.

But setting up a venture capital fund in Silicon Valley, given today's ridiculous valuations, seems like an excellent way to launder money.

This seems unlikely given how little physical cash is used in VC funding.

Nonsense. I took a camera phone photo at a McD's in Hong Kong earlier this year and several employees freaked out and they all came over to ask me to delete it. Are ALL the stores with no-photo policies mafia fronts?

Well, did this Hong Kong McD's have a large aquarium?

What did you take a picture of? I remember taking a video of several people sleeping in the back of a Hong Kong (Central) McDonald's and nothing happened. Perhaps no employee saw me?

Little background here (I'm French and grew up in Paris):

MacDonald's branding in France are really different in France than it is in the US, especially in Paris. Food is quite tasty, meat is fairly good, and even the colors are different: the flashy red/yellow has been replaced by a classy green/black two years ago.

And this specific MacDonald's is one of the biggest and best located in Paris (Champs Elysées)

Money laundering may have been a plausible explanation for a random US MacDonald's, it's really far fetched for this one.

> (...) the colors are different: the flashy red/yellow has been replaced by a classy green/black two years ago.

I believe it's the same case pretty much in whole Europe. In all countries I've been to for the last two years or so (Poland, Czech Rep., Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland), the McD branding involved dark green background rather than vivid red one.

> Food is quite tasty, meat is fairly good (...)

That's generally correct, too. I have no idea about U.S. but here it seems that most of the shady reputation fast food gets is not because of the quality of ingredients, but the way they are processed to make the meals, i.e. almost exclusively fried with lots of added fat.

If you want to launder money, then you need cash transactions. McDonalds was one of the first restaurants to have eftpos transactions at every store (at least in Australia).

I can think of several better ways to launder money than running a McDonalds.

I'd say it's far more likely to be a tighter than usual security restriction due to the (perceived or real) threat from terrorism.

I believe it was at this McDonald's that I was deliberately short-changed without a recepit. This is a big tourist point where daily sales must easily reach five thousand. These guys are probably trying to cover a simple operation to rip people off.

If I recall correctly (murky here, I didn't really care and may be mixing this with another memory or a different location) the cashier even nonchalantly covered the front-facing display with his hand (this actually took a very unusual gesture), so I couldn't see what the entered amount was. I paid in cash, the sum was tiny, and I didn't really care. It's McDonald's.

It would be very easy for any ordinary McDonald's to have rules against filming in their store. Heck, just one incident like this and the manager would instantly ban cameras from ever being in his store again. If word of the stink got above the manager's head, then corporate would ban cameras in every store. I get told no pictures allowed in lots of NYC stores that aren't even in tourist areas and aren't good candidates for money laundering. Can I come to a meeting at your offices and film every single thing I see, including the screens of any workstations I pass by walking to the meeting room?

> No one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device. Ergo this was not an ordinary McDonald's, but one with security people looking for cameras.

Not the case. McDonald's employees in Prague, CZ got pretty pissed at me for taking picture, and were quite rude about it. I think it's McDonald's corporate policy to not allow pictures, at least in EMEA. Lots of stores in high-traffic areas have private security. I think this incident was probably caused by power-crazed security implementing McDonald's policy in an inappropriate way.

Why would a McDonald's have security people looking for cameras?

Never been to France. Been to several McDonald's with security guards. I'm pretty sure they had CCTV. Not a front for money laundering - it was that kind of a neighborhood. Eastern Market has gentrified a bit since then ...

Anyway. A no-camera policy could be put in place to deter snoops. Guys working for the other team (Burger King). Maybe they had a bad experience with guys taking pictures of other patrons.

Ah - you're just trolling, aren't you?

You cannot do money laundering in a McDonald because you need to buy everything from McDonald. It is too easy to easy to control for the authorities. In France, money laundering is normally performed in small pizza restaurants or way easier, moved across the border to be handled in casino-like shops in Germany where it is easy to open such bet/play shops.

For the why this reaction, I have no ideas, plain stupidity is often the good answer.

Isn't it more plausible that this is a key McDonald's location that has some kind of "experimental" menu that they use to test out new product ideas? so taking pictures of the layout or menu could potentially leak trade secrets.

The mafia idea seems quite far fetched, if only because you'd think McDonald's would do a fair bit of work to ensure none of their franchisees are using their brand as a front for organized crime.

A McDonald's, at one of the busiest and most popular tourist locations in Paris, and they're trying to keep something in plain sight a secret?

"Possibly because it was a mafia front. If you wanted to launder money, a fast food restaurant in a popular location"

There are many easier ways to launder money then to do it while operating a McDonalds (which has pretty high vetting for franchises. It's not trivial to be awarded a McDonalds franchise and certainly not in a top location). And most importantly if you are doing something illegal the last thing you want to do is to draw attention to yourself. Not to mention the fact that even if they were laundering money they wouldn't exactly have much to hide from pictures from a random guy with a weird head device.

Was reading wikipedia and found this article, which reminded me of this post.

The transfers were small, equivalent to about 12,000 to 24,000 Philippine pesos (500 to 1,000 US$), and would be handed over each night at a Wendy's or a karaoke bar.


Or maybe employees misses some legal autorisations to work and are afraid there is some working-inspectors that collects evidences.

Money laundering in France are usually done with a kebab restaurant, not a McDonald.

pg, I have discovered in my many years that the truth is often simpler than we expect. Your theory is interesting, but I have http://eyetap.blogspot.com/2012/07/physical-assault-by-mcdon.... Thank you for pointing the way.

when I was at a McDonald's in Madrid Spain, it was the only place that a person at the front told me to put my camera away and delete the pictures that I had on my camera. I proceeded to walk out of the building. The man inside followed me for a few steps before letting me go.

I dont' think the average Micky D's makes enough dough for that.

Los Pollos Hermanos?

Attacking people with cameras in a McDonalds, at a popular tourist trap, is not how any mafia front would behave if they wanted to last more than a week.

>No one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device. Ergo this was not an ordinary McDonald's, but one with security people looking for cameras. Why would a McDonald's have security people looking for cameras? Possibly because it was a mafia front. If you wanted to launder money, a fast food restaurant in a popular location would be a good place to do it.

Wait, what? An international fast food franchise as a mafia front? And for laundering money? So that the mafia also has to check in with the multinational's franchise title owners?

And all that in Paris?

How about some stupid security guy noticed the device and thought (correctly) that it contained some covert camera, and that the guy that has it is possible trouble (journalist investigating the place, a pervert, etc)?

The premise that "no one at an ordinary McDonald's would even notice such a device" is also deeply flawed, what with the paranoia about a) terrorism and b) pedophile photographers these days.

They don't even have to "look for cameras" actively, all it takes is some customer to point it to them "hey, there's a guy with some strange device over there, something fishy is going on".

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