5 Eyes Alliance

Those of you went on to research about using VPNs have probably heard of certain intelligence alliances endangering our online privacy. For example, you can find articles on choosing a VPN based on its country of origin, where the author recommends certain countries over others. Well, what we’re talking about here is the 5 Eyes Alliance (and ‘9 Eyes’ as well as ’14 Eyes’ countries). However, concrete information about these alliances is hard to find on the Web. So, that’s exactly what we’ll talk about right now.

First, we will take a look at the history of the 5 Eyes Alliance, as well as what makes this alliance different from any other similar intelligence cooperation schemes. Then, we’ll dive deeper into this topic and talk about how this concerns VPN users. Hopefully, you’ll get to know all you need about this topic if you stick with us until the end of this guide.

First Things First: The 5 Eyes Alliance History

In recent years, we’ve heard numerous stories about the United States working with the United Kingdom on battling the problem of terrorism. Well, these countries along with Canada, Australia, and New Zealand form an alliance that shares sensitive information through secure channels. Let’s take a closer look.

How Did It All Begin?

Interestingly enough, the United States and Britain began their intelligence relationship back in World War II. Through an agreement known as the UKUSA Agreement, these two countries began working together back in 1941. This cooperation was formalized after the war, in 1946. According to Kristian Gustafson, who is an expert on intelligence studies at Brunel University in London, the main role of this agreement is to bond the two countries with the goal of decrypting Soviet encrypted communications. Not long after the agreement was formalized, Canada joined in 1948 while Australia while New Zealand joined in 1956.

NSA Snooping

What you must understand is that the 5 Eyes Alliance has always been shrouded in secrecy. That is precisely why you won’t find any official information on the Web. However, digging deeper might reveal some interesting facts. For example, Wikipedia says that the Australian Prime Minister became aware of this pack nearly 30 years after the original formation.

The Five Eyes Alliance was made fully public in 2005. Since 2010, it’s possible to find some official information by visiting the UK’s National Archives website.

What Makes This Intelligence Pact Different?

You don’t have to be an expert to realize that countries have different agreements and that they form different kinds of pacts. So, what makes the 5 Eyes Alliance different and unique?

It is often said that the 5 Eyes Alliance is different due to its long history. The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand have been actively cooperating for over 60 years. Therefore, they share decades of trust as well as a common language. Of course, every country from this pact is free to make alliances with other countries. For example, the United States has strong relationships with France, Germany, and Japan. Also, it has alliances in the middle east to fight ISIS with countries like Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, and more. However, the Five Eyes Alliance members keep things to themselves.

As experts say, many intelligence alliances are based on barter. One country gives information in exchange for something else. However, the 5 Eyes Alliance is different. It’s said that there’s a free flow of information, which makes it unique.

5 Eyes, 9 Nines, or 14 Eyes Alliance? What’s the Truth?

Now that you know a bit about the 5 Eyes Alliance, let’s expand on this topic. Aside from this group of countries, there are other countries who asked to join. That’s why we have two more alliances, known as 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes. These aren’t the same as the core group but they work in a similar manner.

Who Are the Five Eyes Countries?

As you already know, the Five Eyes Alliance is where this whole story begins. Formed by the United States and the United Kingdom back in the 1940s, it grew to five countries in total. So, this alliance includes Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

The Five Eyes Countries
The USA The UK New Zealand Australia Canada

Who are the Nine Eyes Countries?

In the meantime, the original group expanded to accept four more countries. These countries are Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.

The Nine Eyes Countries
The USA The UK New Zealand Australia Canada
Denmark France Netherlands Norway

Who Are the Fourteen Eyes Countries?

Finally, we have the largest circle. In addition to the nine countries, we also have Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain. Therefore, this is the largest circle of countries who made a pact to freely share information between them.

The Fourteen Eyes Countries
The USA The UK New Zealand Australia Canada
Denmark France Netherlands Norway
Germany Belgium Italy Sweden Spain

The 5 Eyes Alliance: Operations & Controversies

Next, let’s take a look at the main mission of this alliance as well as how it affects average computer users who browse the Web on a regular basis.

What Do All These Alliances Actually Do?

Officially, these three alliances (which have become one large alliance these days) serve to protect their citizens. This means that if one country has important information, it’s obligated to immediately share it with other countries. However, there’s the question of how is this information being collected.

CCTV Cameras

Without any doubt, one of the Edward Snowden’s biggest revelations was about the NSA’s PRISM program. The main mission of this program was to collect a massive amount of data. They managed to collect that data by intercepting online traffic and it included tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. However, what was troubling is that PRISM was used by low-level agents as well. These agents were able to take a look at your email messages, Skype conversations, as well as anything that you’ve sent or received over the Web. On top of this, the NSA is known for cracking encryption and even bribing IT companies to weaken their security systems.

It’s clear that the reach of the Five Eyes Alliance has grown and there’s no way of knowing about the kinds of things these countries are capable of doing.

Recent Controversies of the 5 Eyes Alliance

You must be wondering what all the recent talk about digital surveillance means? After all, we keep hearing from time to time about data breaches and artificial intelligence surveillance.

The 5 Eyes Alliance became a hugely popular topic once Edward Snowden revealed how the NSA actually works. This is when it became evident that every single one of us can become a victim or surveillance. Your private information is being collected, as well as pretty much anything you do online. This is done under the explanation that countries need this information to protect us and to act proactively. However, you can see that by collecting your personal information, your own country is violating your civil rights. So, how is this even possible?

The biggest problem today is that the 5 Eyes Alliance is used to circumvent laws protecting the citizens of these countries. For example, the MI5 can’t legally spy on the UK citizens. However, they can ask the NSA to monitor citizens in the United Kingdom. As a countermeasure, the MI5 collects information about the US citizens. Therefore, this is an endless circle of going against the current laws that seemingly protect your privacy.

The Bottom Line: How to Protect Yourself Online?

At the moment, your best bet is to use a Virtual Private Network application. This type of software encrypts your Web connection and masks your online whereabouts. This means that your ISP won’t be able to see what you’re doing online. Even if intelligence agencies collect your information, it won’t be of any use to them. Still, there’s a number of caveats that you should know about.

Digital Surveillance

If a VPN is located in the United States, for example, there’s the question of what happens with your data if the NSA comes knowing at their doors. Or, what happens if you connect to a US server from Europe. Where will your data end up? To eliminate this problem, we recommend you to use VPNs with a no-logging policy. There is a number of VPNs that promise not to keep your data on their servers, and many VPNs have proven their loyalty to their customers. So, using such VPN is a good place to start.

To discover more about how VPNs can help you, we recommend reading our article on what are VPN applications, as well as how VPNs work. Then, you can check our VPN Buyer’s Guide to learn how to pick the best option for you.

14 Eyes Jurisdiction: The List of Affected VPNs

Since there’s a huge number of VPNs out there, researching about each of those requires a significant effort. Therefore, we’re going to list all the VPNs located in one of the 14 Eyes countries. Please note that this doesn’t mean that you should stay away from the following providers. If a VPN has a no-logs policy, it’s worth checking it out.

Country-by-Country Guide to VPN Jurisdiction
VPN Jurisdiction VPN Provider Name
The United States
The United Kingdom
  • HideMyAss!
  • SaferVPN
  • SurfEasy
  • LibertyShield
  • FlowVPN
  • TGVPN
  • TorVPN
  • TVWhenAway
  • OverPlay
  • My Expat Network
  • ZoogVPN
  • VPNUK
  • WorldVPN
Australia
  • Celo VPN
  • VPNSecure Me
  • VPNSecure
Canada
The Netherlands
  • GooseVPN
  • RootVPN
  • ShadeYou
  • Wasel Pro
  • Wi-Fi Mask
Norway
  • Opera VPN
Germany
Italy
  • AirVPN
Denmark
Sweden

Final Thoughts

Dear readers, this is where we end our article about the 5 Eyes Alliance. In case there’s anything else you’d like to know, make sure to post a comment below. We’ll do our best to provide a timely response.

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