It looks like Sealand is up for sale again. This time the front-runner is Pirate Bay, the world’s biggest Torrent search engine and arch enemy of the MPAA. With an asking price of around half a billion clams I’d be surprised if they manage to pull it off, but then again – anyone who says crime doesn’t pay has obviously never heard of online gambling.
I remember Wired ran a piece on Sealand years ago, during the halcyon days of the dotcom boom. Some genius figured that a former British navy platform 7 miles offshore would be an ideal place for hosting ‘sensitive’ data and applications. Now if you want my opinion, a cold, damp, windy, rusty and fire-damaged platform in the North Sea isn’t the ideal environment for storing millions of dollars’ worth of servers, routers etc. Be that as it may, HavenCo has been running a data centre there since 1999. I have to admit that I find it truly astonishing that they could actually sign up any customers. Here’s my take on how how a typical sales call would run…
Rep: Good morning sir, have I reached the offices of the Medellin cartel?
Rep: I have a great offer for you from HavenCo.com. Please may I speak with el Hefe?
<Minutes pass. Shouting and gunshots heard in the background, followed by roaring laughter>
Pablo: This is el Hefe. What you wan’?
Rep: Good morning Mr Escobar, this is Janice calling, from HavenCo.com. We have a great offer on right now, where we can safely store all of your sensitive commercial data – customer and supplier contact details, transaction data, and production and shipping information – all for the low monthly price of $19.99. PLUS, if you sign up right now we’ll throw in five email accounts and your very own personalised domain name for free!
Pablo: Who is this? DEA? CIA? Interpol? I don’ know you. You got wrong number. Prank caller, prank caller, prank caller! Don’ call here again!
Now it’s Pirate Bay’s turn and on this I’m even more sceptical. The Sealand vendors continue to assert that they are a sovereign state and can do whatever the hell they like. Problem is, all this confidence stems from a UK court decision in 1968, and sovereignty isn’t what it used to be – look at Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan for examples.
It’ll probably be fun while it lasts, but if I could presume to offer some sage advice to any Pirate Bay investors who might be reading – demand dividends daily, and in cash.