Google Swore Government Officials to Secrecy Over Mystery BargesS

Perhaps you've heard of Google's puzzling four-story tall barge floating in the San Francisco Bay? Maybe you caught wind of Google's similarly clandestine barge bouying along in Portland Harbor? Well, that's not the way Google wanted it to happen.

Reuters reports that secrecy around the hulking structures was so intense, Google had government officials sign confidentiality agreements:

At least one Coast Guard employee has had to sign a non-disclosure agreement with the Internet giant, said Barry Bena, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman. Another person who would only identify himself as an inspector for a California government agency had to do the same. [...]

A California state inspector, who said he had business in the hangar-like Building 3 where some of the early construction took place, told Reuters he had to surrender his mobile phone and sign a confidentiality agreement in order to enter.

Can a corporation really compel a public official, especially one in charge of oversight, to keep a secret—or was it more like a FriendDA?

Even neighboring construction workers were not able to pierce Google's veil of silence, adds Reuters:

Bob Jessup, a construction company superintendent who works in a building across the street, said Google spent the past year working on the project. He said they fenced off a wide area and brought in at least 40 welders a day, who worked around the clock and refused to say a word.

"They wouldn't give up any of the information," Jessup said. "It was a phenomenal production. None of them would tell us anything."

The San Jose Mercury News says that By and Large, LLC—the company behind the structures—has ties to Google and owns at least four big barges, according to U.S. Coast Guard records.

Speculation has run wild, like truly cuckoo, over whether the barges are floating data centers or even exquisite floating retail stores to sell Google Glass, which c'mon. It's obviously the Larry and Sergey's traveling cryonics chamber—just in case that investment in solving death doesn't pan out in their lifetime.

Regardless, Google may soon have to spill its watery secrets. If the barge stay in place "for an extended period of time after its construction is completed," Google will need a permit from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, says Reuters. So far, all the BCDC could get out of Google was that the barges concern "general technology purposes."

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[Image via CBS Local]