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Google Street View driver detained by Thai villagers on suspicion of spying

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(GOOGLE PRESS) Street View Car Maps Hawaii
(GOOGLE PRESS) Street View Car Maps Hawaii

Google's controversial Street View project has photographed millions of miles of roads and paths across the world, but that doesn't mean everyone has accepted the company's camera-equipped cars with open arms. A group of 20 villagers from Sa-eab, in Northern Thailand, blocked one of the cars, interrogated the driver, and then demanded he swear on a statue of Buddha that he wasn't up to no good, according to the Associated Press. Why the hostile response? The villagers weren't opposed to Google's mission, but they were concerned that the driver may have been scouting for a planned dam project that locals have vehemently protested. A representative for the villagers told the wire agency in a written apology 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."

Google's official response to the incident suggests the company is unsurprised by such disturbances at this point: "Embarking on new projects, we sometimes encounter unexpected challenges, and Street View has been no exception." Earlier this year, imagery discovered by Street View users suggesting one of the cars plowed over a donkey sparked a bit of controversy, but Google's harshest criticism has come from US and UK regulators after it was discovered that the cars were snooping on Wi-FI networks as they passed through neighborhoods.