[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[FYI] (Fwd) FC: A data sanctuary is born
- To: email@example.com
- Subject: [FYI] (Fwd) FC: A data sanctuary is born
- From: "Axel H Horns" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Date: Mon, 5 Jun 2000 18:44:01 +0100
- Comment: This message comes from the debate mailing list.
- Organization: PA Axel H Horns
- Reply-to: email@example.com
- Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
------- Forwarded message follows -------
Date sent: Mon, 05 Jun 2000 08:27:01 -0400
From: Declan McCullagh <email@example.com>
Subject: FC: A data sanctuary is born
Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A Data Sanctuary is Born
by Declan McCullagh (email@example.com)
5:00 p.m. Jun. 4, 2000 PDT
WASHINGTON -- A windswept gun tower anchored six miles off the
stormy coast of England is about to become the first Internet data
A group of American cypherpunks has transformed the rusting
fortress, erected by the British military during World War II to
shoot down Nazi aircraft, into a satellite-linked virtual home for
anyone looking for a secure place to store sensitive or
The founders of HavenCo, which will announce operations on Monday,
believe the concept will appeal to individuals and businesses
looking for a "safe haven" from governments around that world that
are becoming more and more interested in Internet regulation and
It's for "companies that want to have email servers in a location
in which they can consider their email private and not open to
scrutiny by anyone capable of filing a lawsuit," says Sean
Hastings, the 32-year-old chief executive of HavenCo.
Hastings says that because a 1968 British court decision
effectively recognized the basketball court-sized island as a
sovereign nation called Sealand, HavenCo can provide more privacy
and legal protections then anyone else on the planet.
To create HavenCo -- which will offer Linux servers for $1,500 a
month -- the founders signed an agreement with Roy Bates, the
quirky "crown prince" of Sealand who landed on the abandoned
platform in 1966 and claimed it as an independent nation with its
own currency, stamps, and flag.
Bates, a former British Army major, has undertaken a string of
failed business ventures in an attempt make use of the world's
tiniest country -- a platform just 10 by 25 yards that perches
atop two cement caissons in the North Sea.
One plan was to build Sealand into a three-mile-long, man-made
island with an airport and banks. Another venture included working
with German investors to build a $70 million hotel and gambling
complex -- a scheme that fell apart with the Germans taking over
the fortress in 1978 and Bates regaining control in a dramatic
helicopter raid at dawn.
This time the elder Bates, now about 80 years old, is taking no
chances on his business partners: His son and royal heir-apparent,
Michael, is HavenCo's chief logistics officer and the royal family
has a seat on the board.
But today Sealand's potential adversaries include not merely a few
expansion-minded Germans, but nervous government officials who are
aggressively trying to pull the plug on unapproved offshore
During a Paris summit in May, for instance, representatives of the
Group of Eight (G8) nations met to hammer out an agreement on
international Net law. "The idea is to produce a global text so
there cannot be 'digital havens' or 'Internet havens' where anyone
planning some shady business could find the facilities to do it,"
French Interior Minister Jean-Pierre Chevenement said at the time.
When Sealand was simply an eccentric's hobby, the British
government largely ignored the smallest country in the world. But
if HavenCo becomes a popular destination for gambling, money
laundering, or other socially disapproved activities, governments
could move against it.
The Home Office in London could restrict the microwave links that
provide HavenCo with its lifeline to the outside world, and the
companies offering satellite connectivity could come under
pressure from regulators in their home countries. HavenCo could
even find its bank accounts imperiled.
For their part, HavenCo executives say they hope to avoid negative
publicity. "We don't intend to make anyone angry at us. We simply
want to provide online businesses a place with a sane set of rules
that are not constantly changing," Hastings said.
"If larger nations have a problem with unrestricted information
flow, then their problem is with the increase in information
technology, and not with us. They can't put the genie back in the
bottle until every individual on the planet has had their three
wishes come true," he said.
Somewhat ironically, bandits recently set up a fake "Principality
of Sealand" website to sell citizenship to unsuspecting visitors.
Spanish authorities reportedly are investigating a gang involved
with drug smuggling and arms trafficking using those passports.
In a bizarre incident, one "Sealand" passport of dubious origin
surfaced in connection with the July 1997 murder of fashion
designer Gianni Versace in Miami.
The British Embassy in Washington declined to comment on what
would prompt London to take action against the legitimate prince
of Sealand. "What it comes down to is that this is a hypothetical
(situation), and so we cannot speculate on this," said Peter Reed,
the embassy's press officer.
In interviews, U.S. government officials indicated they would take
a more active approach.
---- POLITECH -- the moderated mailing list of politics and technology
To subscribe, visit http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
------- End of forwarded message -------