Haven for companies wanting e-privacy

A group of US Internet entrepreneurs is building an offshore e-commerce haven free from government interference in the English North Sea.

A group of US Internet entrepreneurs is building an offshore e-commerce haven free from government interference in the English North Sea.

HavenCo says laws soon to be adopted in the UK and US will give government power to snoop on Web-based businesses.

Already, it has computer technicians located on a WW2 anti-aircraft platform eight miles off the Suffolk Coast, which in 1967 claimed independence as the Principality of Sealand.

In New Zealand, the government says it does not plan a major e-mail encryption centre as MI5 are working on in Britain, and refuses to comment further on security issues.

However, the Waihopi centre near Blenheim has e-mail interception technology; and in March, the government admitted to plans for a massive datawarehouse for storing police and justice informeation, which could extend into other areas.

HavenCo staff are preparing to install millions of dollars worth of computer equipment designed for clients who want their transactions and email free from outside interference and investigations.

However, an Acceptable Use Policy bans the distribution of child pornography from its servers, and prohibits the use of the network to send bulk unsolicited communications or launch digital attacks against other computers or networks.

Havenco, which is registered in the Caribbean island of Anguilla, hopes to launch its services within a few months, once beta testing is complete.

Customers will buy servers or space on servers housed deep within the 25-metre support legs of the former military bunker's platform.

HavenCo CEO Sean Hastings says Sealand will create "a secure and stable environment where online business can flourish."

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