Entertaining retrospective on the libertarian-fantasy-clusterfuck that was SeaLand and HavenCo

Death of a data haven: cypherpunks, WikiLeaks, and the world's smallest nation

My findings have just been published in a new 80-page article in the University of Illinois Law Review, one called "Sealand, HavenCo, and the Rule of Law". It tells the full -- and very weird -- story of how this micronation happened to be in the right place (the North Sea) at the right time (the late 1990s) to provide some cypherpunk entrepreneurs with the most impractical data center ever built. Here, I'll give the condensed version of the tale, hitting the important points in HavenCo's history and explaining what went wrong.

I don't think I'd seen a photo of the Sealand Data Center before. You know, the one that was going to be behind an airlock, in a booby-trapped, nitrogen-filled vault that you could only enter with scuba gear.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Data Center:

Previously, previously.

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18 Responses:

  1. djm says:

    Apropos is China Mieville's criticism of the whole "seasteading" movement:

    • CTD says:

      Mieville's mocking of libertarianism reminds me of the character in Kavalier and Clay who recounts the horrible Zionist tendencies of the Escapist in loving detail.

  2. Oh man, that was a nice bellyful of schadenfreude. You often wish that many unpleasant people would fuck off to an island in the middle of nowhere and quickly turn on each other, but it's rare that they actually are obliging enough to try it for you. Of course it didn't work out, but I give them points for effort.

    The only thing that would have made that article better would have been a nice little list of all of the hacks who wrote puff pieces on this obvious disaster for Wired and the like.

    • DFB says:

      I would settle if they just went sailing more often and complained that taxation is slavery (but no, they don't have any other ideas on how to fund defense against plagues and crime) a little less.

    • Tyler Wagner says:

      I can assure you that Ryan Lackey is indeed unpleasant. He nearly came to a few bad ends in Iraq as well.

    • Richard says:

      You often wish that many unpleasant people would fuck off to an island in the middle of nowhere and ...

      My greatest hope for the world?

      The Rapture.

      Please, just go, every believer of any fairy tale anywhere on the planet, and leave us behind. Just go. We'll manage.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I have plenty more hilarious photos of the place.

    Also, the connectivity was a single long range wifi link to somewhere on the shore near Harwich. Every time a sufficiently big container ship went by, it would block the signal and the link would go down. Good times!

  4. DC Dan says:

    So this is where MegaUpload's data center was housed?

    • jwz says:

      There are many hilarious criticisms to lay on MegaUpload, but "failure to push bits over the network" isn't really one of them.

      No, this is where some people supposedly associated with WikiLeaks are talking about moving their servers.

      I put about as much stock in that as aerial Pirate Bay APs and quadrotor taco delivery, but people are "talking" about it. And it's not even April 1.

    • Lun Esex says:

      Unlike HavenCo, Megaupload was highly profitable and used and enjoyed by probably tens of millions.

      If only the media companies had gotten together and created Megaupload themselves, they'd have set themselves up for raking in money in the digital era and we'd be hearing a lot fewer complaints about "lost profits."

  5. Joe says:

    Their ladder is pretty awesome though.