Footnotes (255)



Google Sets Sail: Ocean-Based Server Farms and International Law

Steven R. Swanson

Hamline University - School of Law

February 1, 2011

Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 709, 2011

In recent years, the oceans have become a venue for nontraditional uses such as rocket launches, fish farming, and energy production. In 2009, the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted Google a patent for an ocean-based server farm, powered and cooled by the seas’ wind and water. A server farm is simply a collection of computers joined together on a network providing services to remotely connected users. Google argued that the transportability of these server ships would allow easy movement to world regions where such services are needed. In addition, the data center ship would provide a relatively green alternative to power-hungry server farms located on land.

If these massive server farms populate the oceans, what regulatory schemes will apply? The server ship’s owner may understandably seek the ability to avoid national exercises of jurisdiction. Internet theorists have traditionally resisted state jurisdiction, arguing that cyberspace should provide its own norms. This early view has recently been undercut by successful state exercises of control over various Internet players and the development of new technology allowing geographic segmentation of Internet content and use.

This Article will consider and evaluate international law’s probable application to state jurisdiction over these server ships and other innovative technologies just beyond view. It argues that the international community should resist additional abridgements of high seas freedoms to address issues relating to server ships or other new maritime uses, absent a compelling international need for additional regulation.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 43

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Date posted: March 16, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Swanson, Steven R., Google Sets Sail: Ocean-Based Server Farms and International Law (February 1, 2011). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 43, p. 709, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1783159

Contact Information

Steven R. Swanson (Contact Author)
Hamline University - School of Law ( email )
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States
Feedback to SSRN

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