Thai Village Arrests Google Street View Driver

google streetview carWhat happens when you send Google Street View cars to a remote Thai village to take pictures for Street View? Well, if the Thai village in question has long suspected that spies are surveying the area in disguise for an unwanted dam project, hilarity might just ensue.

Mistaken Identity

Ban Sa-eab is a small village located 385 miles north of Bangkok. Over the course of many years, the villagers and local environmentalists have developed quite the reputation for being virulently opposed to a proposed dam project in the area. Years of struggle against this dam have evidently left many of the villagers feeling a bit concerned.

This is why, when the Google Street View car came cruising through the area last week, the residents thought that it was a secret surveying vehicle for the dam.

Citizens’ Arrest

As soon as the car was spotted, a group of about 20 villagers surrounded the car to prevent it from going any further. They then removed the driver from the car and put him under citizens’ arrest at a local office. Once in custody, the Google Street View driver swore up and down to local officials that he had nothing to do with the unwanted dam project.

So they did the only logical thing, really. They took him to a nearby temple where the driver was asked to swear on a statue of Buddha that he was not, in fact, a spy. Rough day, Google Street View driver, rough day.

Now that the situation has blown over and the villagers have come to the conclusion that the poor driver was not spying, everyone is deeply apologetic. In fact, representatives for the villagers have released the following statement:

“[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 wrote. They went on to explain 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.”

Although, we can all laugh a little over the way that the Google Street View driver was detained, we probably should not laugh too hard. If anything, we should take some time to be thankful that when the Google Street View car drives by, we don’t worry that it’s a spy (although some people are still unhappy with the privacy issues involved!).

When was the last time you saw the Google Street View cars?

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A teacher by trade, Elizabeth LaBelle graduated with honors from the University of Michigan in 2011. After specializing in Political Science and Francophone Studies with a minor in Korean, the only tangible skill she can show for it is the ability to write in all three languages. Elizabeth never thought she would get paid to write in any language – but after four years washing dishes in an industrial kitchen and a year selling office supplies door-to-door, nothing surprises her. When she’s not writing or teaching, Elizabeth coaches high school debate and forensics. Her hobbies include thoroughbred racing, competitive pool playing and hunting for the perfect Chicago apartment.

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