Capitol Hill

Google Glass ban at Capitol Hill restaurant stirs privacy debate

Google Glass ban at Capitol Hill restaurant stirs privacy debate

SEATTLE -- An emerging technology put a new perspective on privacy at a Capitol Hill restaurant.

The owner of Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge has outlawed the use of Google Glass inside the establishment. The ban became a public controversy last week when Nick Starr was asked to leave if he didn't put the wearable computer away. Starr says he asked the manager for something in writing saying his device wasn't allowed.

"She said she wasn't able to provide any documentation or any website that showed that, but I wasn't allowed to wear it," Starr said, "and I could either leave or take it off."

Starr left, but launched a war of words on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, asking why Lost Lake encourages customers to take pictures inside and post them to Instagram, but Google Glass isn't allowed. Lost Lake owner David Meinert says it's not the same comparison.

"Number one, it's people Instagramming photos of themselves and the food they are eating," he said. "They are not filming people secretly."

Google Glass allows users to take pictures - or record audio and video - and even live-stream the images to the Internet. Meinert says when it comes to his restaurant, he wants no part of it.

"I think they're invasive and they make people uncomfortable," Meinert said. "More than that they make me uncomfortable, and it's my place."

Starr says Google Glass is no more intrusive than camera-equipped cell phones that do nearly the same thing.

"I think privacy is vapor now," Starr said. "There are cameras everywhere. There are recording devices everywhere."

Starr says now he might have crossed the line in online posts when he demanded the manager's termination, and garnished wages for any lost business she caused.

"Knowing now that was obviously the owner's wishes, she was in the right, and I was potentially in the wrong at that point," Starr said

The restaurant owner says Starr did them a favor by getting this privacy debate out in the public, and also brought the business a lot of free press.