March 9th, 2003, 09:39 PM
Welcome to Sealand. Now bugger off.
I just saw an interesting documentary about encryption. Part of it was about Sealand:
This is the company's website, and here is Sealand's official site.
Hunkered down on a North Sea fortress, a crew of armed cypherpunks, amped-up networking geeks, and libertarian swashbucklers is seceding from the world to pursue a revolutionary idea: an offshore, fat-pipe data haven that answers to nobody.
By Simson Garfinkel
Ryan Lackey, a 21-year-old MIT dropout and self-taught crypto expert, sees fantastic things for himself in 2005. For starters, he'll be filthy rich. But his future is animated by more than just money - to wit, the exploration of a huge idea he thinks will change the world. Lackey's big concept? That freedom is the next killer app.
Before you get too choked up, you should know that Lackey means giving corporations and frisky individuals the "freedom" to store and move data without answering to anybody, including competitors, regulators, and lawyers. He's part of a crew of adventurers and cypherpunks that's working to transform a 60-year-old gunnery fort in the North Sea - an odd, quasi-independent outpost whose British owner calls it "the Principality of Sealand" - into something that could be possible only in the 21st century: a fat-pipe Internet server farm and global networking hub that combines the spicier elements of a Caribbean tax shelter, Cryptonomicon, and 007.
Here's a pic of the 'country'.
Could this be the world's most secure, most anonymous hosting solution? Or is it just some punks making big bucks, supported by their self-claimed independency?
What if they sign a billion-dollar deal with some major company, then literally tell them to bugger off - the place has enough firepower to defend itself for a while...
Ryan Lackey: "We only comply to rules issued by the court of Sealand." Well doh... there is no court of Sealand.
March 9th, 2003, 09:52 PM
I heard of this principality before one or two times. The idea seems to be excellent but the costs are high and they have important physical limitations (they don't have the space to host a lot of servers, I don't know how they produce their electricity, and their comunications could probably be easily broken up).
And they have a major political problem since they are not recognised by anybody (neither England, nor UNO, nor...). That's why I have some doubts about this idea. But maybe could this be made somewhere else. The reference to the Cryptonomicon remind us the interest to do this for little governements.
Life is boring. Play NetHack... --more--
March 9th, 2003, 09:59 PM
Do you think Sealand has a McDonalds?
OpenBSD - The proactively secure operating system.
March 9th, 2003, 10:12 PM
March 9th, 2003, 10:20 PM
KissCool hit a couple of the problems i see in this venture; costs, electricity (wave/tidal/solar generators?), food importation, water production, sanitation maintenance, transportation (goods & services acquisition), recognition, citizenship, travel visas to leave the rock.... the list goes on. But foremost on my list, if i were to plan some enterprise such as that, would be the ability to defend it: So they provide "absolutely secure commo for anyone with a bank account", and they p1$$ off England, France, Germany and other points close by, .... how many miniature EMF devices do you think it would take to shut them down or melt their antennas until they could replace all their microchips... and if they don't already have them wrapped in lead foil in the back bunker, where are they going to import them from? And, just who are they going to "b1tc#" at, since they are not a member of NATO, UN, etc? Maybe one of their wealthy customers? Not likely.
Too many problems, too many pitfalls, not a good investment in my book. but don't listen to me, i bought Delta Air stock the day after "9-1-1".
March 9th, 2003, 11:15 PM
there was an articleabout them in wired about 5 years ago. they were trying to get off the ground then. looks like its going to take a long time to get that baby to fly
Bukhari:V3B48N826 “The Prophet said, ‘Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?’ The women said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.’”
March 10th, 2003, 10:57 AM
My feeling is:
1. If they lost the support of the UK government, they'd effectively be stuffed because they could at least blockade them and hence force them to give up. They could do what they did to pirate radio stations in the 1960's (Most countries in Europe were persuaded to make it illegal to take supplies to or from them - they had to ship stuff in international waters from Spain in the end (which wasn't in the EU at the time))
2. The UK government probably quite likes sealand, because I'd be very surprised if the "secure" hosting location is not crawling with bugs, wiretaps, etc
3. As it is theoretically independent of the UK (although officially in UK waters now), the agencies can probably bug it without a warrant
March 10th, 2003, 04:07 PM
Slarty > International Law does not allow countries to claim new land when they extend their sea rights. Back when Sealand was founded, it was in international waters (6 miles off shore - the UK's territorial waters only covered 3 miles off shore back then). To the point: the moment the UK blockades Sealand, the UK will be in violation of International Sea Law. Of course, nothing stops the UK from not granting access to its territory to Sealanders, which could endanger food importation and the like.
As for the electricity-problem: oil platforms use a lot of electricity, made by their own (diesel-)generators. Sealand uses triple-redundant power generators for its electricity. Without supplies, they can hold their stuff running for over a year.
The - Belgian - documentary I saw was a pretty recent one (December 2002 if I'm correct), based around the implementations of the Rijndael-cipher (the official American Government-cipher, developed by the University of Leuven - I studied there... w00t). Sealand is one of those places where Rijndael has been implemented. And believe me, they are very up and running. The platform rests on two cylinders, each 7 floors high and stuffed with hardware. The doors are explosive-proof.
Accessing the platform is virtually impossible without having permission: you can either come by helicopter (the heli-pad is only opened when personnel arrives or takes off), or by boat (the cylinders are a little high to climb, so there's a crane).
Their internet-connection is triple-redundant as well: satellite, microwave, and underseas fiber.
HavenCo is estimated to have over 1000 clients already (from governments - the Tibetanian government in exile used to be hosted by them - over porn to gambling).
As for citizenship: less than 300 people have an official passport. They still have their original nationality as well. Although food and water supplies could last for over one year without re-supplying, there really is no need to: most personell just go home by the end of their shift (except for four security guards who are always on duty). Compare it to an oil-platform, if you want.
The only real problem I see is that Sealand is not officially recognized... that doesn't give anyone the right though to attack them or to sabotage their equipment, since that would be in violation of International Law... recognized or not.
March 10th, 2003, 04:17 PM
ARRRRRR..... I think me true calling has arrived. This pirate's ready to invade.