How to spy on the NSA datacenter

Summary:They really don’t like it when you watch them.

Utah_Data_Center_Panorama
NSA datacenter Image: Wikimedia Commons

Despite building a massive facility for the purpose of storing the data it collects on Americans and everyone else it can find, sometimes in very grey ways, the NSA gets nervous when you even look at their new datacenter.  That’s one of the reasons it’s built on the expansive military base in Utah.

Though not quite the experience that has been reported by those who spend their time trying to catch a glimpse of the goings on at Groom Lake (AKA Area 51), the NSA datacenter facility is already starting to develop a reputation as a hard place for civilians to get near enough to see.

What started off as fairly commonplace security involving asking protesters to move along because they were on NSA property eventually became direct confrontation when NSA security in the facility parking lot not only told reporters to leave, but took away their camera equipment, returning it only after they had deleted images and videos taken of the facility and the interaction with security. They missed a single video, which has been widely reported, and can be seen here:

But one protest group has found a novel way to picket the datacenter facility, and they are doing it with the full backing of the state of Utah. The trick is that the Camp Williams military base, where the facility is located, is split by a public highway. Now while the government can stop people from parking along the sides of the highway, a protest group operating under the name “Restore the Fourth — Utah”; a reference to the Fourth amendment of the US constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

has taken advantage of the well-known “Adopt A Highway” program to adopt the two-mile section of road that runs past the facility, including the main entrance to the datacenter.

The group has announced that they plan to carry picket signs while fulfilling their trash picking responsibilities under the highway adoption program.  They are required to run the garbage pick-up operation at least three times each year.

According to the Utah Department of Transportation, who administers the program, signs with the organizations name will shortly be placed at both ends of the adopted highway segment; a state-sponsored reminder of the protestors goals.

Topics: Government : US, Data Centers

About

With more than 20 years of published writings about technology, as well as industry stints as everything from a database developer to CTO, David Chernicoff has earned the term "veteran" in the technology world. Currently the principal of an independent consulting business and an active freelance writer, David has most recently been a Seni... Full Bio

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