A Fox News story yesterday suggested that Wikileaks is seeking to house its servers in an offshore data haven, and mentioned the Sealand facility as “one possible location.”
Which raises a question: Is Sealand still operating a functional hosting facility? A colocation provider that hosted data on the offshore platform folded back in 2008. But the leader of the proclaimed Principality of Sealand says they still have the capability to host customers.
“There are still some servers operating from the Sealand fortress CoLo facility,” said Michael Bates, also known as Michael of Sealand, in an email to DCK.
For those just joining the story, Sealand is a former anti-aircraft platform perched on two concrete towers 8 miles off the coast of England. Entrepreneur Roy Bates took control of the facility in 1966 and declared it the Principality of Sealand, a sovereign nation and tax haven. In 2000, investors turned it into a colo facility for web sites seeking to locate outside any government jurisdiction.
Wired Cover Story
The colo provider, HavenCo, was briefly famous when it was featured on the cover of Wired magazine in 2001. The colocation operation fell on hard times after the dot com crash, and last year SeaLand was badly damaged in a fire. While there were many challenges to maintaining a data center in the middle of the ocean, the lack of a nearby fire department proved one of the facility’s most serious shortcomings.
Sealand doesn’t appear to be actively marketing hosting services. The principality’s new web site mentions that it is selling e-mail services, but the page has an “under construction” sign and no content. An online store sells branded Sealand merchandise, including pens, mugs and T-shirts.
But the web site doesn’t appear to be physically hosted at Sealand. A Netcraft dig and traceroutes indicate that the site has been served most recently by Business Catalyst, a division of Adobe Systems.