NSA pays highway cops $1mn to patrol data centres
Fri 31 Jul 2015
The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been paying local police patrols to monitor its data centre perimeters for over a year, according to Utah’s Salt Lake Tribune.
These facilities have their own dedicated on-site security teams, however the NSA have confirmed the added measure after the local paper revealed that it had, to date, paid the U.S. state $1,033,850 to keep an extra eye on its Redwood Road site near Buffdale, Utah.
“NSA routinely partners with federal, state, and local emergency responders at domestic locations. For a variety of operational security reasons, NSA does not disclose the full range of these relationships,” the agency said in a statement.
According to reports a Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) officer would park by the data centre’s driveway, while another vehicle would sit by the main entrance to the north of the NSA campus where some construction is currently taking place.
Utah Highway Patrol Colonel Daniel Fuhr said that the NSA paid overtimes rates of up to $50 an hour to off-duty troopers. He added that most of the money goes to the officer but that the UHP would receive some too to cover administrative costs. The NSA also pays for the UHP vehicle mileage.
“Not at all dissimilar from the same kind of service we provide for other entities,” said Major Mike Rapich of Utah’s Department of Public Safety. “We contract this, it’s no expense to the state of Utah. The wages are entirely covered in the contract rate. The mileage for the patrol car is covered as part of the contract, and so troopers do it in addition to their regular duty assignment as overtime, and it works out really well.”
The Bluffdale facility has a history of protests from groups such as Restore the Fourth which cites the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment which bans unreasonable searches. Greenpeace has also staged protests related to mass surveillance and the centre’s huge water requirements in the U.S.’ second-driest state.
Last June the environmental activists teamed up with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to launch a 135ft blimp above the Bluffdale site which read: “NSA: Illegal Spying Below” along with a downward-pointing arrow.