In this age where more and more people are becoming aware of Internet data privacy, the terms 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes are increasingly heard of in technology circles. These are global surveillance alliances that are monitoring all kinds of online traffic, and you need to learn more about them to determine how you can keep your data safe and secure from their scrutiny. Here’s more information about these alliances and what makes each one different:
The Three Major Alliances
5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes are becoming a major concern within the data privacy community, especially when the main concern has to do with data privacy tools, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which are becoming common nowadays among consumers. These three alliances are a result of the combined efforts of the US, UK, Australia, and several other countries with the objective of sharing their data from continuous monitoring of all networks in the interest of international security.
These international alliances work around the clock to collect information on their national networks with the goal of monitoring, recording, and sharing the daily activities of all their respective citizens. They gather information from all sorts of sources, including emails, texts, phone calls, and even social media traffic. This may become a major threat to everyone around the world, not only for the citizens of the countries who are members of the alliances.
People whose countries are not members of these alliances may feel safe due to their geographical location. However, users of VPNs should be aware of the path that their network traffic takes as these may pass through or may be based within the coverage of these global surveillance alliances.
VPNs are designed to protect the data privacy and security of its users. However, VPNs located in any of the countries that belong to these alliances are at great risk. Here, we discuss these global alliances and their coverages, in order for you to determine how to stay away from their umbrella to protect your privacy.
The 5 Eyes alliance pre-dates the Internet age by a long shot. It was formed by the Allies right after World War II, initially as a tool to secure the post-war peace. It endured throughout the Cold War to gather data from the Soviets and the Eastern Bloc, but is still being used to this day in order to monitor billions of private communications worldwide.
The 5 Eyes Alliance includes the following nations:
- New Zealand
Each of these nations has its own intelligence agencies that gather information on the activities of its citizens. Mass surveillance of online and offline traffic are being done continuously, which have been further strengthened by legislature that allows monitoring and sharing of this data. These global superpowers have used the terrorist activities of the last two decades to instill fear in the masses and gain support for data monitoring. What this means is that they can legally monitor and record data from all Internet service providers in these nations, with no options for users to get out.
The 9 Eyes Alliance is just an expansion of the 5 Eyes group, and it functions in a similar manner. The additional countries are as follows:
- The Netherlands
These countries don’t share the same level of cooperation that the 5 Eyes members do, but they still have the benefits of sharing many of their resources and recorded data.
Much like the 9 Eyes, the 14 Eyes Alliance is a further expansion of the 5 Eyes with the inclusion of 9 Eyes members and the following nations:
The 14 Eyes Alliance doesn’t differ much from the two earlier alliances in terms of their objectives to gather and share information on each of their citizens. What the 14 Eyes countries differ in is a less cooperative relationship among one another, which may mean less sharing of data amongst themselves.
Some of these nations also have stricter data privacy laws, which would mean that they wouldn’t have that same depth of interaction with their citizens’ data. What users should be wary of would be the amount of sharing that they do. What these nations have is a level of cooperation that can make any of your data susceptible to being used and taken advantage of by any of these countries.
When using VPNs, you should be wary of where these services are located, as well as where your data passes through. A mistake one might make is to purchase a VPN to avoid the prying eyes of their own nation, only to find out that the VPN they have used is based in a country which is a member of one of these Alliances. In that case, your data would still be circled back to your country and can then be used and shared with all other member nations.