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Litter, protest mix outside the NSA's Utah Data Center

Published February 11, 2014 5:59 pm

Restore The Fourth-Utah picks up garbage on 2-mile stretch of road it adopted outside data center.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bluffdale • Orange garbage bags and vests were tools of protest Tuesday as a group opposed to government surveillance picked up litter outside the National Security Agency's Utah Data Center.

"They're pretty blatantly overriding the Fourth Amendment," Halina Dobson, 22, said of the NSA as she picked up paper, soda cans and tire pieces out of the mud along Redwood Road.

It's the second time Restore The Fourth-Utah has collected litter here since it adopted the 2-mile stretch of Redwood Road that runs outside the Utah Data Center.

The group, whose name is a reference to the Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, applied for and received permission from the state in October to adopt the road. Doing so has meant that signs with the group's name stand outside the data center and Restore The Fourth has a venue to protest what it argues are unconstitutional NSA programs collecting data on Americans.

Critics of the NSA have claimed some victories since October. President Barack Obama has proposed modest restraints on the NSA's metadata program, and a CNN poll has shown most Americans disapprove of the data collection.

Yet critics have not claimed a decisive victory in the courts and all indictions are that the data collection is continuing much as it did before the leaks of former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden.

"The thing that hasn't changed is the government response," to the data collection, acknowledged Dan Garfield, one of Restore The Fourth's Utah organizers.

About a dozen people picked up litter Tuesday. The group and its supporters plan to continue their protests and calls to stop the flow of water to the data center. Garfield said one organization that shares Restore The Fourth's views on the NSA has even discussed buying a statue of Snowden to place near the data center. Garfield did not know how far those discussions had advanced or where, specifically, the statue would be erected.

The Utah Data Center is a gigantic storage facility for the NSA collection program as well as other electronic intelligence gathered by the armed forces and other spy agencies. On its website, the NSA says it protects privacy rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle —

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