Of all the possible reasons to annoy locals living near an unwanted government project, taking snapshots of the area would likely top the list.
Not that Google’s Street View cameras are as intrusive as spy cams in James Bond movies, but when used to capture images in the Sa-Eab village in Phrae Province, where an unwanted dam project has been the focus of environmental concerns, more than a dozen residents raised suspicions that the cam was being used to survey their area.
Taj Meadows, the Internet giant’s communications manager, confirmed the incident and maintained that Google has abided with Thailand’s local laws.
According to The Manager, a Thailand-based newspaper, local villagers seized the car’s driver to interrogate him at a local office, then took him to a Buddhist temple to swear on Buddha’s statue that he was not working for the controversial planned dam construction.
Later on, the residents apologized to the driver after releasing him from custody, The Prachatai news website reported.
In an official note, representatives of the villagers apologized to the driver and to Google, citing their environmental concerns, and suspecting that surveys are being conducted near their area for the unwanted dam project.
Google is no stranger to controversies involving privacy concerns over taking images for its Street View project. Even the British data regulators demanded Google delete personal data gathered through Wi-Fi radio signals picked up by Google’s devices.
Thailand’s Tourism Authority partnered with Google in 2011 to promote the country’s major cities and tourist destinations.
Sa-Eab Village, about 385 miles north of Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, was part of Google’s plan to add images to Maps. And Thailand itself was the 35th country to be featured by Google for its Street View project.