Come to Utah, they said. You will love it here, they said. With our low power and water rates, the NSA would be a great fit for Utah. It would create jobs. It would contribute our best and brightest to the local economy of successful data centers in the Salt Lake Area.
It is in the middle of nowhere, far from the threats of terrorism. Utah is ideal.
My, how quickly things change. Back in 2009, the State of Utah and our congressional delegation couldn’t get the new NSA data center on-line fast enough. The NSA created educational programs at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah to help pump in workers to the Data Center.
Governor Gary Herbert, Major Brian Tarbet (who served as acting AG in 2014), Senators Hatch and Bennett all talked about how great this facility would be. How badly it was needed to prevent the “cyber attack” boogie man.
During the 2014 general session they tried to shut it down, but that bill failed to get out of committee. Because people knew that instead of doing the people’s work, the legislature was going to send a message bill to the federal government that would do absolutely nothing.
Now in 2015, a few in the legislature want to try to shut it down again, and backtrack from their original support. By cutting the water and power to it, and ordering the state and its contractors to remove material support for the facility. The bill is back.
Where was the outrage when this building was being built? One only needs to look at the “sister” data centers of this building to get an idea of what was going on inside these mega data centers. People were warned back in 2006 before this building was announced about the AT&T Room 641(a) in San Francisco that was illegally splitting Internet traffic off to do deep packet inspection, but nobody cared then.
So why now? The state wanted this project badly. They got what they wanted. But now they want to shut it down? Do they really think the government is going to say, “Oh hey, it’s just 1.9 billion dollars (estimated) that we spent on construction and bringing it online, but lets pack it up.” No. Absolutely not.
One has to wonder about the thought process that went into a Water Cooled data center being placed in an earthquake zone, high western desert where water is a scarcity.
The fact is, it’s nothing new what the NSA has been doing. Since the internet was created, the NSA has been trying to find new and improved methods of monitoring it. However, Representative Robert’s bill is going to go nowhere. Even if it passes the Utah legislature, do they really think the governor is going to sign it? Do they think if they override it, the NSA is going to listen?
The fact is it is here, this issue should have been dealt with when we first learned about the NSA monitoring program. It’s too late now.
Perhaps the Utah legislature, instead of asking for more time in session, should focus on the things they can change, instead of wishing they had some kind of Mulligan that they can cash in to fix what should have been stopped back in 2009.