Feeds

Crypto utopia Sealand ravaged by fire

Autonomous zone now vacant

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Fire has damaged a World War II gun emplacement seven miles off the English coast. Better known as "Sealand", the fort was acquired in the 1960s by Roy Bates, who declared it an independent principality.

One man was airlifted from the platform after fire broke out in the generator room on Friday. Eyewitnesses reported heavy damage, and the blaze was left to burn itself out.

A public statement from the Sealand government said: "Due to a fire in the generation facility of the Fortress structure it has been necessary temporarily to evacuate all civilian residents to alternative accommodation as a matter of safety. This situation is expected to continue for the next 96 hours, and an update will be issued within this time."

When Bates purchased the fort, UK sovereignty extended to structures only three miles from the shoreline. This has since changed, bringing Sealand within UK jurisdiction, and the principality remains unrecognised by any other state or international treaty organisation.

But in recent years the ambiguity of Sealand's status prompted one of the more fascinating experiments in technological utopias.

Bates' son Michael - Prince Michael of Sealand - blessed an experiment to create a crypto data haven on the fort, and became head of the operating company HavenCo in June 2000.

To the dismay of investors and cypherpunks, the venture wasn't a success. Ryan Lackey had moved to the fort in 1999, hoping to establish a safe location for privacy services such as anonymous remailers, and experiments such as anonymous digital cash. [July 2000 Slashdot Q&A]

In a presentation to the 2003 DefCon convention, a former employee described how internal politics and a lack of investment backing had thwarted the experiment. Contracts were broken, the bandwidth never materialised, and the location was vulnerable to DOS attacks. At the time of his 2003 presentation, HavenCo had no new customers, and had seen several of its existing customers leave.

"Sovereignty alone has little value without commercial support from banks, etc," concluded Ryan. Inviting us draw our own conclusions as to where the real sovereign power lies. Banks don't like cash they can't count or control. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.