Thursday, November 20, 2014

Utah lawmaker questions city water going to NSA





AP PHOTO/RICK BOWMER

This June 6, 2013, file photo, shows the National Security Agency’s Utah Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah. A Utah lawmaker is questioning whether city water should be shut off to a massive National Security Agency data-storage facility outside Salt Lake City.

By Lindsay Whitehurst, Associated Press

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014 | 6:50 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker concerned about government spying on its citizens is questioning whether city water service should be cut off to a massive National Security Agency data storage facility outside Salt Lake City.

Republican Rep. Marc Roberts, of Santaquin, said there are serious questions about privacy and surveillance surrounding the center, and several Utah residents who spoke at a legislative committee hearing Wednesday agreed.

During the last legislative session, lawmakers opted to hold off on Roberts' bill to shut off the facility's water and decided to study it during the interim.

"This is not a bill just about a data center. This is a bill about civil rights," web developer Joe Levi said. "This is a bill that needs to be taken up and needs to be taken seriously."

Pete Ashdown, founder of Salt Lake City-based Internet provider XMission, called the center a stain upon the state and its technology industry. "I do encourage you to stand up and do something about it," he said.

Lawmakers said they aren't considering shutting down $1.7 billion facility, but the committee chair acknowledged the concerns and said there might be another way to get the point across. "We may look at some type of a strong message to give our representatives to take back to Congress," said Republican Sen. David Hinkins, of Orangeville.

The NSA's largest data storage center in the U.S. was built in Utah over 37 other locations because of open land and cheap electricity. The center sits on a National Guard base about 25 miles south of Salt Lake City in the town of Bluffdale.