A data haven, like a corporate haven or tax haven, is a refuge for uninterrupted or unregulated data. Data havens are locations with legal environments that are friendly to the concept of a computer network freely holding data and even protecting its content and associated information. They tend to fit into three categories: a physical locality with weak information-system enforcement and extradition laws, a physical locality with intentionally strong protections of data, and virtual domains designed to secure data via technical means (such as encryption) regardless of any legal environment.
Purposes of data havens
Other reasons can include:
- Distributing software, data or speech that violates laws such as the DMCA
- Copyright infringement
- Circumventing data protection laws
- Online gambling
History of the term
The 1978 report of the British government's Data Protection Committee expressed concern that different privacy standards in different countries would lead to the transfer of personal data to countries with weaker protections; it feared that Britain might become a "data haven". Also in 1978, Adrian Norman published a mock consulting study on the feasibility of setting up a company providing a wide range of data haven services, called "Project Goldfish".
Science fiction novelist William Gibson used the term in his novels Count Zero and Mona Lisa Overdrive, as did Bruce Sterling in Islands in the Net. The 1990s segments of Neal Stephenson's 1999 novel Cryptonomicon concern a small group of entrepreneurs attempting to create a data haven.
- "The Switzerland of bits". The Economist. June 17, 2010.
- "Gov Spying Boosts Swiss Data Center Revenues". Forbes. April 7, 2013.
- "Iceland aims to become an offshore haven for journalists and leakers".
- Michael, James (November 9, 1978). "New Report on Computer Data Banks". New Scientist. Retrieved November 29, 2010.
- Norman, Adrian (September 1978). "Project Goldfish" (PDF). IPC Science and Technology Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-03.