Flag Of Convenience

Traditionally, Merchant sailing vessels have been registered in their ports of origin - i.e. where their owners reside.

This also has the effect of making the ship owner legally responsible for following the seafaring regulations of the flag country.

Increasingly, however, ship owners have taken to registering their ships in countries with more "relaxed" attitudes to things like safety and crew welfare.

This is a FlagOfConvenience. [http://fotw.digibel.be/flags/flagconv.html]



I think the danger here is that you may not know that someone has choosen a FlagOfConvenience. If I know that the saftey laws of Fooland are considered to be in the bottom 20% I may not want to book passage on such a vessel. How is FlagOfConvenience different from let-the-customer-beware? -- ErikMeade

Because the bulk of ships flying a FlagOfConvenience are cargo. There is no CaveatEmptor. The people who have cargo on the ship don't care about the standards -- their cargo gets to its destination 99 times out of a 100. The only people who care are the crew, and in quite a few countries, they don't have a choice. -- RogerLipscombe

AhHa, WhyDoYouPermitThisToBeDoneToYou does not apply here then, rl? -- em

For my little soapboxing below, the cargo ships of yore are akin to business-to-business companies of now. -- ss


In the future, corporations will flock to flags that support CorporateGovernments, like the Mohawk reserve in Ontario that is setting up a DataHaven (see NealStephenson's Cryptonomicon). Since online you don't have to declare the flag you operate under caveat emptor is going to be a serious issue. On the other hand, maybe it will work like NealStephenson's TheDiamondAge, or worse, SnowCrash. Tough things to call. You'd probably need more perspective than just NealStephenson. ;)

Actually, even presently you'll find English sites hosted on United States' servers that provide "legal haven" [http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=00/04/17/0056200&mode=flat]. Mirroring to countries outside the reach of restrictive laws (also known as "offshore" nations) is also common. Many online casinos operate offshore as well. -- SunirShah

AhHa, you don't think there will be any balance to this in the future? -- em

Probably not. I think legal frameworks are dissolving for this very reason. Notice the response: insane backlash like UCITA (http://www.ala.org/washoff/ucita/what.html) in the States. The ironic thing is, the more stringent the laws, the more actively and quickly they will be subverted. I don't know if I can complain about this. I'm certainly helping it along, especially with things like MeatBall. Oh, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself again. --ss

I didn't say anything about laws, there could be other balances. -- em

Ah, but I said the legal framework is dissolving not dissipating. The new framework will be privately and individually held. Unless there is a BalancingForce. That would be CorporateGovernment, I suppose. But even then, geeks have been subverting corporations online for quite some time. Even ICANN's name registry could die if someone just goes ahead and writes something more popular. Well, that's one scenario. It's very difficult to make blanket claims about the future. What other balancing forces might there be? --ss

The natural ones that come about when people do the right thing? -- em

People are doing the right thing in their minds. That leads to the dissipation of control to the people. I'm not really making a moral judgment on the whole affair. In the past, I've shown negative reactions to FreeSoftware and OpenSource. But I'm a pragmatist. These things are going to happen, at least to some degree. I don't really believe you can fight the dissipation of legal power with more laws. You can only fight the dissipation of legal power with the guns that back them up; or money. I'm not sure either of those two really matter to the subverters, or myself for that matter. --ss

Why fight this dissipation of legal power at all even if you could? -- em

Consider if you were the one that had all the legal power... Or you couched your life in the ambiant warmth its protective glow. Yeah. Power shifts are never easy.

By the way, notice how I confuse my stance by first complaining that corporations will take advantage of this and then corporations will lose because of this. That's half because I'm confused on this issue and half because it is a confusing issue. --ss

Ok, if you're looking for a different perspective from NealStephenson look to BruceSterling, especially his more recent work like HeavyWeather and Distraction its not exactly utopia, it's not exactly dystopia, and I just love his anarchic nomads, with their reputation servers and distributed decentralised everything. Of course that might be because I know quite a few people who live like that NOW!!!. Coolest NomadicRig? i've seen was a recumbent bike with solar panel, laptop and cell phone, and he was looking into getting a heads-up display and handlebar keyboard. Bruces' basic tenet seems to be that things will degrade gracefully, governments will keep on doing their thing out of sheer inertia becoming progressively more irrelevant to people's daily lives. --LarryPrice

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