Preposterous Universe

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Okay, so you have some really important, super-secret data you want to store. This stuff is so good (maybe illegally good) that you worry about it being compromised by the snoopy government or voracious competitors. Where can you keep your data where it will be completely safe? I suggest the principality of Sealand. (Photo copyright Kim Gilmour.)

During WWII, Britain constructed "sea forts" as a way of protecting the coast line against German air attacks. After the war they were abandoned, and eventually torn down, except for one -- Fort Roughs Tower. It was (and is) basically a platform situated on two huge pillars, that sat there slowly rusting. At least, until 1967, when radio pirate Paddy Roy Bates and his friends occupied the structure as a base from which to broadcast to the UK. Never one to think small, Bates declared the fort an independent country, dubbed it Sealand, and named himself Prince. (See history at Wikipedia and an article at Wired.)

Sealand has had a colorful history, including an attempted coup and a small war. But the radio piracy business isn't what it used to be, and the primary venture on Sealand is now HavenCo, a manager of "secure servers." Basically, the Sealand government makes very few awkward demands on the HavenCo management, as they are essentially identical.

The entrepreneurs claim that they don't want to get involved with truly outlandish illegal activities, child pornography and the like. But if you'd like to manage a few anonymous transactions, HavenCo might be the way to go. I'll be sure to look into it once I get Preposterous Universe to turn a profit.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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