If you were ever angry at Google for photographing your house and putting it up in Street View for all the world to see, learn that you are not alone. And then maybe send a nice gift basket to the people of Sa-eab village, northern Thailand.
About 20 Sa-eab residents stopped a Google Street View car and detained the driver, accusing him of being a government agent who was working for a controversial dam project.
The Thai villagers did not wait for the authorities to intervene and decided to take matters into their own hands. First they took the driver to a local office to interrogate him.
The man must have given the right answers, as the 20 Sa-eab residents then took him to a temple, where they asked him to swear on a Buddha statue that he was not spying on them on behalf of the dam project, according to Thai news website Prachatai.
Eventually, the villagers released the Google Street View driver and apologized both to him and to Google for the misunderstanding. They even apologized to the entire Thai nation and the world and explained that there had been many repeated cases of agents trying to survey the area in disguise.
Google responded by acknowledging the fact that any new project, including Street View, may encounter unexpected challenges and insisted that their mapping project fully respects Thai laws and only features images taken on public property.
Sa-eab, Phrae province, is located about 385 miles north of Bangkok and is known for its opposition to dam projects, both by environmental groups and by local villagers.
Thailand was the 35th country in the world to have Google Street View available and in 2011, the local tourism authority actually partnered with Google for a joint initiative to promote tourism by displaying images of top attractions and streets in several major cities.
This is not the first time the Google Street View project has had problems. The project is aimed at mapping the world with the help of photographs taken from passing cars, but its technology also picks up Wi-Fi signals. UK authorities recently ordered Google to delete all personal data gathered that way or otherwise face a lawsuit.
[Image via techfat]