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The NSA symbol and cell phone. Reuters. The NSA symbol and cell phone. Reuters.  

Utah lawmaker wants to turn off spigot to NSA data center

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Chuck Ross
Reporter, Daily Caller News Foundation

A Utah state legislator is pushing a law that would deprive a large National Security Agency data center being built near his district of a basic necessity: water.

Marc Roberts, a Republican, is proposing the “Utah 4th Amendment Protection Act” to prohibit the state from supplying the NSA’s $1 billion-plus facility with the 1.7 million gallons of water it will need on a daily basis to cool its 100,000 square foot farm of data- and metadata-collecting machines.

For Roberts, the issue is federalism and the Constitution.

“When the federal government gets too big and gets out of control, the states have to step up, and that’s what we’re doing now: join[ing] together to push back,” Roberts told The Guardian.

“If you want to spy on the whole world and American citizens, great, but we’re not going to help you,” said Roberts, a first-term representative.

Roberts’ bill is modeled on legislation being pushed by a group called the OffNow Coalition, which is made up the Tenth Amendment Center and the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.

OffNow’s campaign to prevent Utah and other states from providing precious water to what it considers domestic spying facilities is part of the coalition’s “Turn it Off: NSA’s Achilles Heel” campaign.

OffNow is also selling bumper stickers which read “#NullifyNSA.”

“No water equals no NSA data center,” said Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin in a statement.

The NSA facility, which is being built near Bluffdale, covers over 1 million square feet of space. It will be the agency’s largest facility, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The push to deprive NSA facilities of their sustenance comes as Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and others filed a class-action lawsuit against President Barack Obama for collecting data and metadata through the NSA without search warrants.

The collection of phone records and other metadata by the NSA has been a hot topic of discussion after ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided internal documents that shed light on the agency’s massive operation.

The OffNow Coalition hopes legislators in other states will follow Roberts’ lead. So far, lawmakers in Maryland, California, Vermont and Alaska have submitted similar bills for consideration.

With or without water, the Bluffdale facility has had a rocky rollout. The city signed a contract with the NSA in September 2011. Since then, electrical problems have delayed the project multiple times, and it is unclear when the facility will be operational.

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