HavenCo and Sealand hitched their fates togther for a while, but the two had very different models. Sealand mostly just wants to be left alone, in proud independence, with its flag and its coins and its one-of-a-kind royal family. HavenCo, on the other hand, was supposed to reach out beyond Sealand, to inject its clients’ content into other countries. That’s harder, both because the moral justifications are subtler, and because the other countries are likely to get mad.
As I’ve discussed over the course of the week, HavenCo had to deal with three different bodies of law: national law, international law, and Sealand law. In order to challenge national Internet laws, it relied on Sealand’s sovereignty under international law, which left it at the mercy of Sealand law. This is a hard circle to square. HavenCo’s experience suggests that a data haven is not a viable project, or at least not in the form HavenCo tried: legal arbitrage through the smallest nation possible.
Today, I’d like to use this tripartite framework — national law, international law, Sealand law — to think briefly about other attempts to stand outside of the international system of nation-states. People have come up with all sorts of schemes to make the world a better place by pulling up stakes and starting over again somewhere out from beyond Leviathan’s reach. They all, however, need to grapple with the same kinds of issues HavenCo did, and it’s interesting to see some of the different balances they’ve tried to strike.
Artificial Islands and Seasteading: The nations of the world have signaled their strong disinterest in allowing the creation of new competitors on artificial islands. The Republic of Minerva, the Republic of Rose Island, the Republic of New Atlantis, and Atlantis, Isle of Gold all [...]