The Principality of Sealand

ArsTechnica publishes fascinating summary of an attempt to make and run a data haven in the smallest area to lay claim to nation status - the Principality of Sealand, just off the coast of the UK.

The article puts its finger on the nub of the difficulties with "independent" micro-nations:

Even if Sealand were "officially" its own country, independence isn't worth much without allies. Any nation with warplanes — no, make that any nation with an inflatable boat and an outboard motor — could blow the place up. The only thing stopping it would be the United Kingdom's displeasure at explosions in its territorial waters. Any protection offered by Sealand's larger neighbor, however, would presumably come with enough strings attached to raise the question of why the servers should be on Sealand rather than onshore.

For fans of Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon it's instructive to see how hard it is in practice to implement a data haven and deal with the inconvenient logistics, security and political considerations imposed by nearby nations who have a strong interest in preventing the haven from operating.

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