Article excerpt

The Principality of Sealand consists in its entirety of a 6,000-square-foot World War II anti-aircraft fortress situated six miles off England's eastern coast. It may not look like much, but Sealand is a bona fide nation-state. "Prince" Roy Bates, who occupied the abandoned gun platform in 1967 and then proclaimed its sovereignty, is currently using Sealand's independence to create the first regulation-free Internet data link. The link provides clients with complete privacy and no pesky government interference in online financial transactions, e-mails, and Web sites. The Associated Press has reported that Haven-Go, the Antigua-based company that is responsible for the enterprise, will allow customers to host servers on Sealand at prices ranging from $3,000 to $10,000. They'll be allowed to use their servers for any purpose, other than to send junk e-mail or child pornography or to hack into other computer systems with malicious intent (and presumably not for fun either).

As if the legalities of running a regulation-free Internet operation were not cloudy enough for Sealand, there exists the separate vexing legal issue of its asserted sovereignty. Though Sealand issues its own currency, stamps, and passports, the United Kingdom insists that the upstart platform is still within UK territory and has no legitimate claim to independence. Sealand argues the contrary, and cites a 1968 court decision in which a British judge ruled that the court had no jurisdiction over Sealand because it was located just outside British territorial waters. …


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