Villagers Mistake Google Driver for Government Spy
They let him go after he swears before Buddha statue
By John Johnson, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2013 9:08 AM CDT
File photo of a Google Street View car.   (AP Photo/Google, file)

(Newser) – The hazards of driving around in one of those Google mapping cars: When residents of a remote village in Thailand saw the weird-looking vehicle with a camera on top tooling around, they blocked its path and hauled out the driver for questioning, reports the Bangkok Post. Was he a sneaky government agent surveying for a dam they oppose? They finally believed he worked for Google only after he swore before a statue of Buddha inside a temple, reports AP.

"(We) apologize to the official, to Google, as well as to the Thai people throughout the nation and to the citizens of the world," wrote the villagers afterward (on Facebook). "There had been so many repeated cases that convinced the villagers to believe someone was trying to survey the area in disguise." Google isn't upset: The company "sometimes encounters unexpected challenges, and Street View has been no exception," says a spokesman. And thus the village of Sa-eab will be mapped, with Buddha's blessing. (In other spy-related news, a tale of 1970s CIA spying has come to light.)

More From Newser
My Take on This Story
To report an error on this story,
notify our editors.
Villagers Fear Google Driver Is Government Spy is...
Show results without voting
You Might Like
Showing 3 of 22 comments
Aug 21, 2013 11:45 AM CDT
It happens. Locals are leery of strangers. One of the scarier moments of my life was being stopped by a heavily armed rebel group at a roadblock in Chiapas Mexico late one night when driving from Guatemala home to the US. I drove a white Chevrolet that at the time, 1998, was a favorite type of US Government fleet car and had two medallions on the rear trunk edge, one from the US Navy and one a Freemason symbol. These guys were convinced I was some sort of spy and it took a while to get them to let me go. Based on their behavior I thought I was to be kidnapped or killed. Very scary guys!
Aug 17, 2013 10:25 AM CDT
First Google Maps, then a surveyor for the dam project. How easily those Thai villagers can be fooled. They'll be underwater in two years.
Aug 16, 2013 7:36 PM CDT
And all the villagers rejoiced, yeahhhhhhhhhhh. I saw one of these Goggle urth contraptions at my local fuel station. I was thinking if that was a good job. I was also thinking a long time ago about making my own panorama camera equipped vehicle to drive around town. It would capture all the tags parked in a driveway. Then if that car was later used in a crime, you would now where it was parked at least on the day you took its photo. At first, Google had that capability with Street View. Then to keep civil libertarians happy, they smeared the tag #'s on cars. But I wonder if that is on the distribution files and not the master images.