Feeds

Crypto utopia Sealand ravaged by fire

Autonomous zone now vacant

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.