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March 28, 2012 9:26 AM   Subscribe

The fate of havenco analyzed. (Full law review article by same author: here.)

Previously, mathowie asked: "Will they remain sovereign? Will they get away with anything?" Answers -- not really.
posted by advil (17 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Neal Stephenson couldn't have written it better. What a fascinating tale.
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:36 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this. I have a CLE tomorrow and I'll bring the law review article with me to lunch. It looks really interesting.
posted by cribcage at 9:49 AM on March 28, 2012

And you never will escape the law like that. If you can get there, so can they. If you're outside the law, so are they. The only exception is encryption.
posted by Devonian at 9:50 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

The only exception is encryption.

Unless you are up against Patrick.
posted by DU at 10:08 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sealand was the equivalent of "boy if I could just make it across the county line they can't get me!"
posted by basicchannel at 10:10 AM on March 28, 2012

Sealand was the equivalent of "boy if I could just make it across the county line they can't get me!"

Well, those Duke boys did get themselves out of a mess o' trouble that way every so long a while...
posted by AzraelBrown at 11:01 AM on March 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

That the world's pre-eminent libertarian redoubt nationalized its only business makes me vaguely cheery.
posted by klanawa at 11:06 AM on March 28, 2012 [8 favorites]

Wow. I was just wondering what happened to HavenCo a couple days ago when reading about righthaven.com, who offer "spineful hosting" in Switzerland. They got the domain at auction from a copyright troll company that went down in flames.
posted by zsazsa at 11:07 AM on March 28, 2012

Is this article substantially different from the article on the same topic he published in early 2011? Because I found that article fascinating (saw a thing about it on Slashdot or somewhere and downloaded it to my nook) but my life is too short to read it all over again. The first page looked exactly the same as what I remember reading last year.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:31 AM on March 28, 2012

Greedy dicks grift geeks
posted by zippy at 11:35 AM on March 28, 2012

This is the final, carefully proofed and cite-checked, version of the draft I posted a year ago. It adds some interesting details I found digging through the UK's National Archives. If you read the one last year, save yourself an afternoon and skip this one.
posted by grimmelm at 12:07 PM on March 28, 2012 [6 favorites]

Umm, and yeah, the UK files and newspaper clippings are in a file cabinet just outside my office. There are still things about the Sealand story I don't know, but within the limits of what I was able to find out, I'm happy to AMA.
posted by grimmelm at 12:09 PM on March 28, 2012 [3 favorites]

Thanks, grimmelm. I loved the last version! And I am not one to read law review articles for fun ordinarily.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:47 PM on March 28, 2012

The problem with freedom through sovereignty is that once you become 'sovereign' you no longer have any protection from anyone else. If Sealand was truly a 'free' country then anyone with a beef with any of the data on havenco's servers could simply hop on a boat and take over the platform. That could easily include other, larger governments.
posted by delmoi at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2012

A data haven is "the information equivalent to a tax haven," a country that helps you evade other countries' rules on what you can and can't do with your bits.

No. At least, not where other countries agree to the disparities in law, as in the off shore corporate profits that do not come to America because of America's higher tax rate. That is to say, the ownership of the money is not at issue.

The ownership of data haven bits, on the other hand, is usually very much at issue. (Usually. I did RTFA and saw their gambling site clients.)

Minor quibble. Interesting article, for which thanks.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:36 PM on March 28, 2012

I remember reading that Wired magazine story however long ago, and have wondered "whatever happened to HavenCo?" from time to time. So thanks for this post!
posted by dnash at 4:52 PM on March 29, 2012

I read the law-review article last week. Thanks for publishing it, Professor.

Firstly, to anybody who stumbles upon this post and is curious enough to click the links, I would recommend reading the full article if you have the time. It consists of three sections. The first two sections are about the backgrounds of Sealand and HavenCo, respectively. The prose in these is well written and 100% comprehensible to a lay reader. Frankly, I think that part of the article would fit just as well in the pages of The Atlantic or The New Yorker. It's fascinating stuff.

The third section delves into a legal discussion, but it's still not anything that a lay reader couldn't grasp. Many law-review articles are very dry, esoteric, and beyond the useful understanding of many lawyers, let alone casual readers. This one isn't. To be fair, it probably would be if the author had gone deeper into some of the legal abstractions/thorns, which he acknowledges isn't his goal.

A few random notes. (Almost like being back in law school...) First, Footnote 377 cracked me up. I've never seen an author cite Wikipedia and then note that he has fixed it. On page 463, I wasn't sure what "the darknet" is. The discussion(s) about how to define "state" were interesting—for instance, having a territory, having a population, having a government...and then maybe, having the capacity to enter into relations with other states. That's one of those really basic, fundamental things that I hadn't really thought about because it's outside my background. And I thought the article made an insightful point about the term "data haven" evolving and making a rhetorical flip, from protecting one individual right (privacy) by restricting information's flow to now protecting a different individual right (speech) by encouraging the flow.

Overall, it was a really interesting read. Thanks to Professor Grimmelmann for publishing it, and to Advil for posting it here.
posted by cribcage at 1:04 PM on April 2, 2012

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