INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cyber-Nations Causing Legal Interest

Published: Wed 5 Jan 2000 11:40 AM
Psst! Want a new passport? You can get it over the Net. Welcome to Lomar the latest in a string of cyberspace nations that is causing international legal interest.
You have now entered the Republic of Lomar. Can't see it? It's all around you. Lomar is an Internet-based micronation, one of dozens proclaiming independence from the government's of the world. You can get a Lomarian passport, but not a driver's license. There are no roads in cyberspace.
Is this serious? Yep! Though Lomar hasn't been formally recognised by any other countries it has had some diplomatic success: It's "citizen's have gotten into Cuba and Russia on Lomarian passports.
Computer software salesman Jim Damiano decided to acquire a Lomarian passport because he often travels to Central America where guerrillas don't like people with US papers. "Faced with a choice of handing over an American passport or a Republic of Lomar passport, the choice is obvious if you want to stay alive," he said.
Traditionally international law requires territory, population and government for a state to be legally recognised, said Ruth Wedgwood a professor of international law at Yale University.
But governments-in-exile such as the Paelnstinian Liberation Organisation have been recognised and the Knights of Malta are technically a landless sovereignty, a nation without territory recognised by the United nations.
"If people start calling themselves Lomarians, or anything else, then you will have a very interesting evolution in international law," Wedgewood said.
The more people start talking about one of these worldly cyberspace nations, the more that is written about them, the more people genuinely believe they are a citizen of that nation, the more real they will become in the eyes of the world. Anyone for the Republic of Lomar?

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