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Google Street View driver detained by Thai villagers

Google's aim to have the world mapped by Street View experienced a minor road block this week when villagers from a northern Thai village apprehended the driver of one of its cars used to take the photographs.

The locals were not annoyed about being featured on Google Maps however. Instead, they were concerned that the vehicle was taking surveying photos for a proposed dam project which the residents strongly oppose.

The driver was taken to a local office and quizzed about his motives before being led to a Temple where he was told to swear on a statue of Buddha that he was not involved in the dam project, Thai newspaper The Manager reports.

The incident, which has been confirmed by Google, occurred in Sa-eab village in Phrae province and involved around 20 villagers. After being convinced that the driver was not working for the dam project, the residents released him and later apologised.

The local population, along with environmental activists, have long been campaigning against the building of a damn near Sa-eab, which is 385 miles north of Bangkok.

"[We] apologize to the official, to Google, as well as to the Thai people throughout the nation and to the citizens of the world," the villagers' representatives said in a written statement, adding that they were "extremely worried and there had been so many repeated cases that convinced the villagers to believe someone was trying to survey the area in disguise".

"Embarking on new projects, we sometimes encounter unexpected challenges, and Street View has been no exception," said Google spokesman Taj Meadows.

"Street View abides by Thailand's local laws and only features imagery taken on public property.'

Image credit: Flickr (sanchom)