If you’ve found yourself keeping an eye on the recent developments taking place in the cybersecurity world, chances are you’ve encountered the term ‘5-9-14-eyes surveillance’ before. The phrase might sound a bit out of touch with all the rest of the cybersecurity jargon to our uninformed readers.
The term refers to a coalition of countries that pool their resources and intelligence to fulfill the shared goal. The goal is to keep an eye on the online activities of their citizens.
Ever since their establishment, the 5-9-14-eyes surveillance has catapulted into a massive organization that consists of global superpowers with access to millions of individuals’ sensitive information, posing an enormous risk to privacy ideals and freedom of expression.
Even more unfortunate is that due to the covert nature of the 5-9-14-eyes surveillance, individuals living in the countries that are a member of the coalition have no clue that their data might be shared with foreign intelligence.
To help our readers understand the consequence of the global 5-9-14-eyes surveillance alliance, we’ve compiled an article that dives into the origin of the partnership, along with some tips to remain protected from mass surveillance.
What is the ‘5 Eyes’ alliance?
The 5 Eyes alliance is global surveillance, consisting of the following countries:
- United States (Co-founder)
- United Kingdom (Co-founder)
- New Zealand
The 5 Eyes coalition- created in the 1940s amid the Second World War. It came into being through a vague agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States. The agreement later was famous as the UK USA agreement of 1946.
Later in the 1950s, the 5 Eyes (abbreviated as FVEY) alliance expanded to include New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. It was all for the shared purpose to gather as much intelligence as possible.
The Cold War between the US and the USSR also played a fundamental part in the formulation of the agreement. It made the exchange of intelligence between the countries, without any legal repercussions.
The ECHELON Surveillance System
The FVEY’s most significant step was the development of the ECHELON surveillance system during the Cold War. It allowed the coalition to keep tabs and intercept the Soviet’s communication.
The existence of the ECHELON surveillance system came into light by Duncan Campbell in 1988. The surveillance system faced bouts of backlash, originating from the European parliament. Following the 9/11 attacks and the War on Terror, the events used as the key argument for the increase and continuation of monitoring practices.
The ECHELON surveillance system was devised to intercept Soviet communication. But it soon evolved (and continues to develop) into an advanced espionage tool. It is currently being used to check and observe the communication of citizens all over the globe.
What are the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes coalition?
After the world got a hint of the ECHELON surveillance program, several eyebrows were raised in the direction of the global mass surveillance we’ve come to know as the 5 Eyes coalition. Any shadow of a doubt that lingered about the existence of the alliance was eradicated by the secret NSA revealed by the former intelligence officer and whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
Furthermore, the NSA –classified documents revealed the existence of two other alliances. It was even more shocking than the discovery of 5 Eyes- since its existence came to light in 2003.
The original 5 Eyes coalition diverged into two expanded arrangements including other countries too. These alliances came to be known as the “9 Eyes” and “14 Eyes” alliance. They include the following countries, along with the original FVEY nations.
9 Nine Eyes Surveillance
With the original participant nations of the 5 Eyes alliance, the 9 Eyes coalition consists of the following countries:
The 14 Eyes alliance is an expansion of the 9 Eyes alliance. It partners with the following countries, also to the members of the 9 Eyes coalition:
Unofficial allies of the 14 Eyes alliance
Besides to the countries listed down as a member of these global mass surveillance coalitions, it is worth mentioning the countries that are considered to be third party contributors to the alliance and have been caught or suspected of exchanging intelligence.
Nations which are considered to be unofficial members of the 14 Eyes alliance include:
- South Korea
What is the extent of the surveillance conducted by 5-9-14-eyes Surveillance?
In 2005, President Bush allowed the NSA to scrutinize American citizens’ phone calls was brought to public notice. The President defended himself by equating the surveilling as “a vital tool in our war against the terrorists.”
In the aftermath of 9/11 and the later War on Terror, many citizens believe that monitoring practices enable government agencies to trace terrorists and criminals.
Not only does this go against the inalienable right of free speech. But it also allows the government to know about the beliefs harbored by their citizens and share information with the other members of the alliance.
Although the full extent of the surveillance conducted by the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes is still unknown. But citizens living in these countries can be sure that any information about them can be shared with other members.
Through the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes coalition, government agencies can intercept a citizen’s online communication. This includes the personal messages you send. If certain legislation prohibits a nation from gathering intelligence about an individual- they can rely on other alliance members to get the job done.
How can individuals protect themselves against 5-9-14-eyes surveillance?
The fundamental purpose behind the creation of the original 5 Eyes alliance was to pool intelligence together with the highest level tools at the disposal of intelligence agencies.
If the 14 Eyes are targeting you, the chances of you finding out and protecting your privacy are pretty bleak. It is especially when the fact that the full extent of government surveillance still remains unknown.
There are several tried-and-tested ways through which individuals can make the process of spying difficult for governmental agencies or third-party.
Some popular ways to increase your privacy and prevent mass surveillance include:
Limiting the use of smart devices
The notion of renowned governmental agencies like the NSA and FBI resorting to hacking your smartphone seems absurd at first. The chances of it occurring are pretty high.
Despite the immense amount of convenience offered by smart devices, the information they store and collect is valuable to many governments and third-parties, especially if you’re on a watchlist.
Smart devices prove to be the perfect surveillance tools. They maintain a stringent record of user activity, as demonstrated through the PRISM program. The program brought into light that private companies collaborated with the 14 Eyes to keep a tab on users.
To ensure privacy, the best step you can take is to restrict or limit the use of smart devices.
Using a VPN
VPN is the best option to go with when it comes to online privacy. It encrypts all your online communication. At the same time, the IP address becomes veiled with another IP address.
While selecting a VPN provider, make sure that the VPN doesn’t have servers located in any one of the nations participating in the 14 Eyes coalition. Overall. VPNs are a great option to bypass 5-9-14-eyes surveillance.
In the end, we can only hope that we cleared the air of any doubts that our readers might have been harboring in regards to the 5, 9, and 14 Eyes alliance.
We remind our readers to stay in the know-how of similar governmental espionage programs. In the Information age, knowledge is power- even more so when that knowledge helps individuals evade the massacre of their online privacy.