14 eyes surveillance explained

It is common knowledge that the government is watching us. In fact, some experts claim that they gather information from several sources, including emails, documents, texts, phone wiretaps, and more. So why do they do this? Well, the main goal of any surveillance is to monitor, share and record a target’s daily activity.

This is where the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances come in. however, instead of focusing their surveillance on one individual their system is designed to monitor, share and record the activities of everyone. Consequently, in this brief article, I will tell you more about these alliances, and more importantly, how to protect yourself from big brother’s prying eyes.

So who are the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliances?

5 Eyes Alliance

They were formed immediately after the end of World War 2. The intelligence alliance continued to grow even throughout the Cold War. However, following the events of 9/11, it grew even faster and stronger to combat terrorism. Countries in the alliance include:

  • New Zealand
  • USA
  • UK
  • Australia
  • Canada

Not surprisingly, some of the countries in this alliance are the worst and most sophisticated abusers of online surveillance. Countries in the 5 Eye Alliance collectively work together gather tons of information from their citizens.

The countries in the alliance mainly use politics and collaborations to remain under the radar. For instance, the UK passed the investigatory Powers Act in 2016 that made it a requirement for internet service providers and telecommunication companies to record client data. On the other hand, the USA circumvents domestic laws that prohibit domestic spying by subcontracting to other countries. Tactics like this have enabled them to function in the shadows for years until whistleblowers like Edward Snowden exposed them. 

It has been thought that the 5 Eyes Alliance activities have reached a scope that is far beyond their own countries. For instance, Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the South African government. This prompted the US and UK agents to place him under surveillance and collected Information that they gave to the South African government. This consequently led to Mandela’s arrest in 1962. It is such activities that make experts believe in the ECHELON surveillance system.

So what is the ECHELON Surveillance System?

Echelon surveillance system

Well according to The Guardian, it is a global network of spy stations that can spy and record millions of individuals’ personal information. It officially does not exist and both the American and UK governments deny it. However, there have been several whistleblowers like Perry Felwock and Margaret Newsham who have shed some light on the happenings.

The unofficial 5 Eyes Allies

As discussed above, the 5 Eyes Alliance extends beyond the scope of their countries. However, they try to keep this expansion as unofficial as possible. These unofficial members cooperate with some countries in the alliance. These unofficial members are however not awarded the equal status as their official counterparts. Consequently, they may not even receive anything in return. Some well-known unofficial members are:

  • Israel- cooperates with the USA and frequently provides the NSA and CIA with surveillance information.
  • Japan, South Korea, and Singapore- are allies in the pacific that provide information to the USA
  • Bermuda, Anguilla, the Falklands, and the BVI- each independently share information with the UK

9 Eyes Alliance

This one consists of all the 5 Eyes Alliances members but also includes:

  • France
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • The Netherlands

It is clear to see that this alliance is simply an expansion of the 5 Eye Alliance. The additional countries simply increase the scope of the surveillance allowing more information to be collected. The second-tier members do not enjoy the same cooperation level that the members of the 5 Eyes enjoy. However, they still enjoy some benefits that come with resource sharing and additional access to data.

14 Eyes Alliance

Next, the 14 Eyes Alliance consists of members of the 9 Eye and 5 Eye alliances with additional countries namely:

  • Germany
  • Sweden
  • Belgium
  • Spain
  • Italy

Again, this is simply an expansion of the two other agencies. Members of this alliance also lack a cooperative relationship with members of the 5 Eyes. However, they still enjoy expansive access to resources and intelligence.

VPNs in Countries to Avoid

From the above discussions, it is clear that you definitely have to avoid some VPNs based in some countries. Here some of those countries:

Australia

Member of – 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances

Using VPNs is perfectly legal in Australia. In fact, they have a popular Zero restrictions policy over internet use or access. However, your privacy and data may be at risk here as they have a longtime cooperative relationship with the other members of the 5 Eyes Alliance.  

Belgium

Member of- 14 Eyes Alliance

This country enjoys unrestricted access to the internet with a government that strongly supports the freedom of press and speech. However, internet providers are still subject to lawful warrants that may cause them to share your data. Also, they are a cooperative member of the 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliance.

Canada

Member of- 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances

Citizens of Canada have the freedom to speech and press. Also, Canada is one of the world’s only countries with universal access to the internet. However, they are a cooperative member of all the alliances. Consequently, your data is subject to an intelligence-sharing agreement.

Denmark

Member of- 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliances

Denmark has provisions in place to prevent any kind of censorship. Consequently, it is a country that promotes and supports freedom of speech. However, they still have some internet restrictions but these are mainly put in place to block the viewing of child pornography. Also, they are a member of the 9 Eyes alliance. Consequently, your data will be subjected to their intelligence-sharing agreements.

France

Member of-   9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances

France is a firm believer in the freedom of speech and does not filter any internet content. However, there have been some great initiatives aimed to put a stop to fake news and terrorist threats. This together with the fact that they are a 9 Eyes member, may make your information vulnerable

Germany

Member of – 14 Eyes Alliance

Germany also has a history of protecting the privacy of its citizens with an emphasis on the freedom of speech. However, the commitment to these freedoms is somewhat lacking. There have been some legislative measures that have seen the expansion of surveillance both internationally and domestically. The police are even allowed to monitor anybody’s online activity. Finally, Germany is also members of the 14 Eyes alliance.

Italy

Member of – 14 Eyes alliance

Promote freedom of speech and privacy. However, they filter some child pornography and gambling content on the internet. Also, the fact that telecom companies are required to keep the user’s information for six years is a privacy concern. Lastly, they are members of the 14 Eyes alliance.

United Kingdom

5 Eyes co-founding member

The recent increase of surveillance by the UK government has citizens questioning their rights. Privacy is legally protected but the government seems to be using terrorism as an excuse to take away this right. The country is also a cofounding member of the 5 Eyes alliance.

United States

5 Eyes Alliance co-founding member

The US has a long history of protecting its constitution. Consequently, the country’s government has expressed its commitment to protecting the internet freedom and privacy of the citizens. However, this is simply not true as they have the world’s most sophisticated online surveillance systems.

Protecting Yourself from Prying Eyes

It is almost impossible to escape surveillance. However, here are some great tips that can give you a higher level of privacy:

1.     Use a VPN

A good VPN will encrypt your data and hide your location from prying eyes. Below are some top-ranked VPNs that are safe to use:

  • NordVPN– one of the world’s most known and trusted VPNs. It is located in Panama so it is out of the jurisdiction of the 14 eyes Alliance. Also, it utilizes 2048-bit encryption, the best in leak protection and a strict no-logs policy
  • ExpressVPN– this is one of the world’s fastest VPNs that are also able to bypass any geo-blocks. Also, it utilizes impressive privacy and security features that hold up even under pressure like AES-256-CBC data encryption that is military-grade.
  • Surfshark – a newcomer to the VPN industry. The same as ExpressVPN, it is based in The British Virgin Islands which, the same as Pana, is out of the jurisdiction of all 5-9-14 eye alliances.

2.     Limit Your Exposure To Internet-Capable Devices.

Occam’s razor said it best ‘‘the simplest solution is almost always the best.” well as far as privacy is considered; there is no better solution than staying off the grid. The sophisticated surveillance systems used by these alliances can reach any device that is connected to the internet. For a more privacy-friendly home, you should limit the use of these devices.

3.     Utilize All Privacy Tools in Your Arsenal

Apart from VPNs, other tools are often overlooked. For instance:

  • Use a secure email service – these encrypt your emails hence protecting them from prying eyes. A good provider of this service is Mailfence.
  • Use private search engines- google records everything you search. a good alternative to Google is Swissocows
  • Using a secure browser – much like you search Google also keeps tabs on your browser. A great secure browser is the Tor Browser.
  • Use Adblockers – Ads are not only annoying but they are also a tracking tool used by Big Brother.

4.      Use the More Advanced Online Security Measures

There are some additional steps you can take to ensure your privacy is at an optimal level. here are some:

  • Using a more secure operating system- Linux operating system is a more privacy-friendly option
  • Using virtual machines – they ensure safety by acting as a separate machine on a host machine
  • Using a chain of VPNs – most VPNs can be used together. Doing this is advisable as it will compartmentalize and effectively distribute risks across many service providers.

Final verdict

There you have it. A brief yet informative 2019 Guide to 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliances. Hopefully, you have gained something and are better equipped to protect your privacy.



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