All About 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliances

5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes

Powerful countries have always looked for ways to gain more information about their adversaries (and non-adversaries) and surveillance is one of their main tools in this. 

However, true global surveillance as we know it today really took off at the end of World War 2, when the United States and  the United Kingdom entered the UKUSA Agreement

This led to the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes, which we are going to discuss in this article as well as show you how you can protect your privacy from them.

Why You Should Avoid 5/9/14 Eyes?

Before we get into what exactly are 5/9/14 Eyes, it’s also important to discuss why you should avoid them and use services that are outside their jurisdiction.

If you live in a country that is a member of these surveillance alliances, your data is simply not safe. And it’s not only that the government of the country you reside in will get your data, it will also likely share it with other members.

But what about privacy laws?

Unfortunately, laws can be changed and plenty of these countries do so under the guise of “public security”.

Just take a look at this statement from US Attorney General Willam P. Bar on the introduction of  the Lawful Access Bill in the Senate:

“Passing legislation that allows warrant access to encrypted data will allow law enforcement to further provide for the safety and security of the American people. I applaud Chairman Graham and Senators Cotton and Blackburn for introducing the first-ever bill to address this issue.”

Basically, what this says is “Oh, you want to protect your data with encryption? Not on my watch!”

Of course, the US is not an isolated example. Other countries in the 5/9/14 Eyes have also introduced their anti-encryption laws or are working toward them.

As an example, the Australian government passed a law in 2019 that permits government agencies to force businesses to hand over user data and info, even if it is protected with cryptography.

Last year in November, the German regional court pressured Tutanota to introduce a backdoor that would enable the police to read encrypted emails in plaintext and monitor mailboxes.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) based in the 5, 9 and 14 Eyes countries don’t fare much better. Just consider this:

  • HideMyAss (now HMA VPN) was ordered by a UK court to collect user data and hand them over to authorities for a criminal investigation
  • Lavabit had to shut down following the US government’s demands for full access to user emails and encryption keys (one of the users was Edward Snowden). You can read an opinion piece by Lavabit founder Ladar Levison.
  • IPVanish, a VPN based in the US, collected user data for an FBI criminal investigation (while claiming a “no-logs” policy). This was their homepage at the time:
internet privacy solution
  • RiseUp was forced to comply with an FBI order to collect user data in 2017 and also got a “gag order”, preventing them from disclosing this information to their users. You can read their canary statement about this.

And those were just a few examples of governments forcing backdoors (here’s why that’s a bad idea) or other ways in order to collect private user data that happen in the 5/9/14 Eyes.

Who are the 5 Eyes Members?

Now that we explained just how much your data could be exposed in one of these countries, let’s introduce their members and tell you a little more about these alliances, starting with the 5 Eyes members.

The 5 Eyes Alliance consists of the original UKUSA members (the United States and the United Kingdom), who were joined by three more English-speaking countries Australia, New Zealand and Canada, during the 1950s and the Cold War era.

These five countries, which today have some of the most notorious surveillance agencies, including the NSA and the GCHQ, grouped together to collect and share information on the Soviet Union, China and their allies.

most notorious surveillance agencies

However, once the “Red Menace” threat was over, the 5 Eyes didn’t dissolve or disband, but actually  renewed their surveillance and spying efforts after the 9/11 terrorist attack and the “Global War on Terror” and are continuing to do so to this day.

Of course, that’s not to say that Russia and China no longer concern the 5 Eyes members, as they are still focusing their activities on them, but in addition, they also collect and share data about their own citizens (the GCHQ collects data on US citizens and shares this information with the NSA).

9 Eyes

The 9 Eyes Alliance is an expansion of the original 5 Eyes, with the addition of 4 more countries – France, Norway, Denmark and Netherlands.

There is no known treaty between the 9 Eyes countries and its existence would go under the radar if it weren’t for Edward Snowden’s 2013 leaks.

14 Eyes

Finally, we get to the 14 Eyes. These are the 9 Eyes countries, plus Germany, Italy, Spain, Belgium and Sweden.

These are officially known as “SSEUR” or “SIGINT Seniors Europe”. According to the NSA:

“SIGINT involves collecting foreign intelligence from communications and information systems and providing it to customers across the US government, such as senior civilian and military officials.”

Conclusion

The 5, 9 and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances were all formed to collect and share information on their geopolitical adversaries like the Soviet Union, later Russia, China and Iran.

However, they don’t stop there and as you can see, private citizens’ data is also often in their sights.

If you live in one of these countries, this includes you as well, so you need a way to keep your data private.

CTemplar is the only major privacy email service that is out of the 14 Eyes jurisdiction and is absolutely dedicated to protecting your privacy. Sign up to CTemplar today to keep your privacy intact.