They haven’t been in the news since The Pirate Bay wanted to buy the entire nation of Sealand, but it appears as though the hosting provider HavenCo has finally gone offline.
The company started in 2000, offering hosting services from an old naval fort that was declared a ‘sovereign principality’ by Roy Bates. The major selling points were supposedly the physical security, and the fact that Sealand wasn’t a member of the WTO and thus not subject to any trade- or copyright laws. Any content was allowed on HavenCo’s servers except for child porn.
The company didn’t start out too well: in 2003, there were no new customers and existing customers were leaving:
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, & had seen several of its existing customers leave. “Sovereignty alone has little value without commercial support from banks, etc,” concluded Ryan.
A couple of years later, in june 2006, a big fire destroyed most of the platform. It was mostly rebuilt in 2007, but since all internet connectivity went through the UK and the UK claims the platform is within its territorial waters, no large customers have signed up. Ryan Lackey did a presentation about the problems in 2003; it’s available at http://www.metacolo.com/papers/dc11-havenco/dc11-havenco.pdf. That site was unreachable at the time of writing, but there’s a mirror here.
Since earlier today, the HavenCo website itself is offline. Netcraft says the domain is now hosted outside the Sealand/HavenCo subnet:
The company has just a single subnet (220.127.116.11/20), and a quick ping scan shows only 59 hosts up inside that subnet at the moment. Combined with the move of their main website and the fact that their only reseller’s website is down as well, I think it’s safe to assume that a piece of Internet history is now gone. Or has Sealand actually been bought by Google…?