The extradition of a British citizen from the
UK to the USA for hacking into Pentagon computers might be a matter of concern
only for the depressingly small minority of us who worry about civil liberties.
However, this is one of a number of recent cases that have
important practical implications for the way entrepreneurs do business.
Most serious entrepreneurs are now used to the idea of
selling to, and sourcing from, foreign jurisdictions, especially via the
Despite the prosperity generated by this global trade, the
authorities of jurisdictions with restrictive laws have become more aggressive
about enforcing those laws against residents of jurisdictions where laws are
This means entrepreneurs must be careful about their
personal movements. The head of an internet gambling operation, based offshore
where it was perfectly legitimate, was arrested when his flight landed in the
USA, where gambling laws are astonishingly hypocritical.
One might imagine one is perfectly safe in the country in
which one is a citizen in good standing, so long as one obeys the laws of that
Yet cases like that of the NatWest Three – discussed in an earlier blog –
and this Pentagon hacker show how bureaucrats are increasingly able to use
wide-ranging extradition powers, agreed on the usual pretext of “fighting
terrorism”, to get their own back on overseas residents and foreign citizens
who irritate them.
These extradition powers are ridiculously one-sided: Britain
cannot get a strong suspect in a murder case extradited from Russia but feels
obliged to send computer nerds to America on demand.
Entrepreneurs must understand that being both legally and
physically offshore no longer affords the protection that it should.