Utah could shut off NSA's water supply

A Utah lawmaker wants to shut out the National Security Agency (NSA) by shutting off its water supply.

The NSA has been building a massive database near Bluffdale, Utah, to hold the troves of information it collects through various surveillance programs. In a state with vast swaths of desert, water is critical to keeping the data centers cool.


Bluffdale convinced the NSA to locate its operations near the city by issuing bonds to pay for water lines to the data center and agreeing to sell the agency water at a below-market rate.

"I just don’t want to subsidize what they’re doing on the back of our citizens," said Republican Marc Roberts, the Utah state representative behind the bill, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Roberts’ proposal would forbid “cooperation between a federal agency that collects electronic data and any political subdivisions of the state.”

Roberts made his argument before the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee this week. The Salt Lake Tribune reported the committee didn’t oppose the bill, but asked for Roberts to clarify exactly which agencies would be affected if his measure became law.

In his presentation, Roberts did not shy away from calling out the NSA. The agency has violated the Constitution with the information it’s storing at the data center, he argued.

“We all know and are aware that has been violated,” Roberts said.

The NSA has come under fire since government leaker Edward Snowden revealed the existence of controversial U.S. spy programs that collected data on Americans.

Privacy advocates, civil liberties groups and tech companies claim some of the NSA’s programs infringe on Americans’ First Amendment right to free speech and Fourth Amendment protection from unreasonable government search and seizures.