The Ridiculously Simple Way NSA Spying Could Be Stopped

The NSA isn’t dead in the water, but it could be without it.

(Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Nov 20, 2014· 1 MIN READ
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.

Water, water everywhere and not a drop for the premier National Security Agency data collection center—if one conservative lawmaker gets his way.

Not only is Utah the second driest state in the nation, it’s also home to the largest NSA data collection facility. Located in the Salt Lake City suburb Bluffdale, the Utah Data Center guzzles up to 1 million gallons of water each day to cool its computers, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Cutting off the NSA’s water supply could effectively throw a wrench into the agency’s work collecting domestic phone and email records—and that’s just what Republican state Rep. Marc Roberts wants to do. His bill would force the city to “refuse material support or assistance to any federal data collection and surveillance agency.” That would mean no more cheap water to aid mass domestic spying, a regular practice unveiled by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last year.

Roberts introduced the proposed legislation in February, but it’s gaining further consideration after the Senate blocked the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday; the bill would have provided oversight into the agency’s questionable blanket bulk data collection.

The NSA has an arrangement with the town of Bluffdale that allows the site to purchase water at a discounted rate. Roberts’ bill grandfathers in this agreement but—once the agreement expires—stems future cost-cutting deals between the intelligence agency and Bluffdale or any other municipality.

Under the impression that the NSA would abide by the constitution when the massive compound opened last year, Roberts is dissatisfied.

"We all know and are aware that [the Constitution] has been violated," Roberts told the Tribune. If the NSA won’t follow federal law, Roberts says he will use state rules to protect his constituents’ privacy.

According to Utah state law, “the water of the state belongs to the public, the state determines who has a right to use water and regulates that use.”