show and prove

by Ryan Lackey
ryan@venona.com (pgp)
12 August 2003
  see also  

HavenCo was a "datahaven" created by a small group of pro-freedom individuals in 1999, and in operation as a datahaven in the self-declared "Principality of Sealand", more or less, until the end of 2002. It has been extensively written about in the press. Unfortunately, the project has only been successful as a preliminary experiment, and is no longer a functioning datahaven. Until now, the results of the experiment have been kept private, or at least not made accessible to the public, and as a result, some people may have a false sense of security when it comes to hosting their information with HavenCo on Sealand.

I founded HavenCo in 1999, served as CTO from inception until December 2002, and was largely responsible for the operations of the entire company during that period. I also physically resided on Sealand for much of 2000-2002, and invested substantial amounts of my own money in the project over the years. I am certainly one of the people in the world with the most interest in the success of HavenCo, as well as being a strong supporter of liberty on the Internet. However, my conscience cannot allow me to remain silent and allow users to be misled as to the security policies and standards of HavenCo and Sealand as they exist today, even if this causes substantial financial loss to myself. I cannot allow those currently in control of HavenCo to continue to tarnish my reputation by implied continuing involvement with them, as I am now involved in creating the next generation of fully distributed, tamper-resistant, externally auditable datahaven. While I can't go back and retroactively correct all of the misleading information which is currently circulating about HavenCo and Sealand, I hope by writing this document I will be able to at least put the truth out there for people to find. I can only hope the failure of the HavenCo project will not hinder future efforts in the area, as I remain a believer in the underlying concept of absolute liberty on the Internet.

HavenCo is currently operated by the Bates family, who have been in control of Sealand since 1966, when they took it from another group of pirate radio broadcasters. Those responsible for the changes in HavenCo policies and the effective closure of the datahaven are Michael Bates, also "Crown Prince Michael of Sealand", and his advisor, Lew Schnurr. It is they who are responsible for ensuring the privacy and security of customer information held by HavenCo on Sealand, and when it became clear they were unwilling to either disclose changes in policy to the public or to maintain the initial complete privacy policies of HavenCo, I left the company in December 2002. Anyone evaluating the utility of the HavenCo service should evaluate based on information available today, and be aware that with the information I have about HavenCo's past and present operations, I do not use HavenCo services myself, nor do I recommend them to others. Please do make your own informed decisions.

I am concerned that continued reliance on the security and anonymity of HavenCo may lead to business failure, due to problems with reliability or other aspects of the service. I am however far more concerned that reliance on HavenCo to not disclose information to outsiders may lead to criminal prosecution against individuals.


The information in this document is entirely from public sources. All information which may be considered commercially confidential has been reconstructed from entirely public sources, and all sources have been documented.

Confidential customer information has not been released in any way. Any information not readily available to outsiders from public sources which relates to current/past HavenCo customers has been omitted.

It was only after considering the consequences for former, current, and potential future datahaven users, as well as the interests of shareholders and others affiliated with HavenCo, that this document is being released. While some additional harm may result from the collection and ease of access of this information, it has always been available, and otherwise, many would have a false sense of security.

  1. introduction
  2. HavenCo was a datahaven from 2000-2002 operated from the self-declared Principality of Sealand in the North Sea.

  3. disclaimer
  4. All information in this document is from public sources, and is fully documented as to source in the appendicies

  5. outline
  6. This site is intended to be an evolving reference, and suitable for multiple formats. The main page stands alone, with additional detail available on each section mentioned in the outline. Sections are being added over time.

  7. quick facts
  8. A summary of relevant numbers about HavenCo, derived from public sources

  9. founding
  10. HavenCo was founded by Ryan Lackey, Sean Hastings, and Jo Hastings in 1999. After deciding to set up a datahaven in some part of the world, we selected Sealand as an ideal location, and raised financing. We gathered a substantial amount of interest

  11. growth
  12. decline
  13. departure
  14. post-departure
  15. what next: legal
  16. what next: datahavens
  17. appendix a: photographs
  18. appendix b: agreements
  19. appendix c: network discovery walkthrough
  20. other resources
  21. q&a/faq
  quick facts: HavenCo August 2003
Total number of HavenCo customers 10-14 customers
Distinct customer machines in operation 15-20 machines
Total bandwidth 2.048Mbps (1xE1)
Upstream transit providers Level(3) UK (AS9057) via Band-X (AS12885)
BBC Internet Services (AS2818)
Single points of failure Sealand LAN, router, and PDU
Wireless link to shore (2.4, 5.3, or 5.8 GHz unlicensed spread spectrum
Shore relay site, Cliff House, Felixstowe, Suffolk
1 x E1 circuit to London Telehouse
London Telehouse/BBC suite colocated router
RIPE IP/ASN allocation AS15928
Power generation capacity 20KW in operation, 2 x 100KW in reserve
UPS battery time 15-30 minutes
Projected monthly revenue USD 22 500
Projected monthly costs (budgetary) USD 80 000
Projected monthly costs (cash) USD 25 000
Staff on-site Sealand 1-2 facilities/maintenance/security
Staff off-site (SE UK) 1 technical, part time; 2 administrative, part time
Outstanding debt USD 8 000 000
Number of debtholders 4
Outstanding equity at last valuation USD 20 000 000
Number of shareholders Approximately 15
Shares issued 0
Cost to repossess, private group USD 20 000, 30 minutes
Corporate Registration Anguilla (lapsed); Cyprus (lapsed)
Directors and officers Michael Bates (UK)
Lewis Schnurr (UK)