The Strangely Interesting Tale of HavenCo’s Demise

I remember reading about HavenCo ages ago, a hosting company based in Sealand, a small structure (build for World War 2 and subsequently abandoned) in ostensibly-international waters off the coast of England. The idea was for it to be an offshore data haven, hosting everything legal in Sealand — which, being a small abandoned structure in the middle of the ocean, did not have particularly onerous copyright restrictions.

While intriguing at the time, I hadn’t heard about HavenCo for ages and it had faded from memory. The other day I happened across a fascinating article on Ars Technica, Death of a data haven: cypherpunks, WikiLeaks, and the world’s smallest nation. It’s a long, but absolutely worthwhile read, outlining HavenCo’s history, what went wrong, and its mark on history and the quest for freedom.

Incidentally, for further reading, Ryan Lackey has a 2003 DefCon presentation entitled HavenCo: What really happened, which offers a candid look from the perspective of HavenCo’s founder.

Incidentally, the most interesting follow-up I can find about what Lackey is up to these days comes from Blood, Bullets, Bombs, and Bandwidth, detailing an ISP providing Internet service in Iraq. (The article is undated, but possibly circa 2007.)

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