Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Wikileaks considering move 'really offshore,' where only maritime law applies

Wikileaks may be planning to move its servers offshore, if a Fox News report is correct. And by offshore, we don't mean out of America ... we mean off of land, to a location that would only be subject to maritime law.

A source said, "Then they can keep running WikiLeaks and nobody can touch them. If you get a certain distance away from any land, then you're dealing with maritime law ... They can't prosecute him under maritime law. He's safe. He's not an idiot, he's actually very smart."

The report even points out a possibility. Rather than having to perhaps buy an offshore platform similar to an oil rig, the Principality of Sealand might be a perfect location.

The Principality of Sealand is located six miles off the eastern coast of the U.K., and a rusty old World War II-era former anti-aircraft platform. In 1968, a British court ruled that the facility is outside the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom, and as such, Sealand’s owner has declared the facility a sovereign state, or "micro-nation," but Sealand is still unrecognized by other nations.

Sealand has been "owned" since 1967 by Major Paddy Roy Bates and family. He has crowned his wife “Princess Joan,” and his 59-year-old son calls himself “Prince Michael.”

But it is still an open question as to whether or not locating servers on Sealand would provide Wikileaks with immunity. Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy with the Washington, D.C., think tank Center for Democracy and Technology, said

“Where the data resides isn’t what determines jurisdiction. You prosecute real people, you don’t prosecute servers. So if the WikiLeaks people want to live on a platform in the North Sea and educate their children there ... for people who have lives, that doesn’t make sense.”

What's strange about that statement is that it goes against the recent arrests and takedown. The DoJ said it had jurisdiction because some of MegaUpload's data existed on Virginia-based servers. Yet if jurisdiction is determined by people, not data location, how did the arrests go down?

The company was headquartered in Hong Kong; the arrests of Kim Dotcom and others took place in New Zealand.

Admittedly, we're not lawyers, but it's an interesting question: would locating Wikileaks' servers truly "offshore" protect it --- or not?

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