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The three high-tech barges that Google is building, at a total cost of $35 million, are planned to be “floating retail stores”, docked in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, according to the SF Chronicle.

Google needs a permit from the regional Bay Conservation and Development Commission to moor a barge for any length of time in the bay, and the idea of a floating retail store could put the project in very choppy political water.

It may also help explain why Google has been so reluctant to discuss the project in detail. But why would Google need so much space to “sell” Google Glass?

Perhaps the “retail store” concept is a convenient cover story for something much larger. How about a platform for wireless balloons at 65,000 ft, off-shore data mining, or international datacasting using white spaces? A barge in international waters might avoid local jurisdiction. Maybe Google’s original concept for the barges was effectively deep-sixed by the NSA’s brazen attempt to weaponize the internet. Who knows.

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