With the increasing involvement of government agencies and companies in our social life owing to our valuable data, it has become the need of the hour to deploy privacy mechanisms. If you’re an individual, there are very few better options than Virtual Private Networks or VPNs when it comes to protecting your privacy online.
If you are someone who uses VPNs or is aware of how VPNs work, you must have definitely come across the terms “five eyes,” “nine eyes” and “fourteen eyes.” These terms are often found on VPN websites are a crucial factor when you are choosing the best VPN for yourself. If you’re wondering what are these terms and how it is related to your privacy, we have written a detailed article explaining 5 eyes, 9 eyes, and 14 eyes surveillance.
What Are 5 eyes, 9 eyes, and 14 eyes Surveillance?
Simply saying, these are international surveillance alliances between the different countries of the world to keep an eye on its citizens. The three alliances work independently to collate and share amongst themselves the data of citizens including their browsing pattern. The three alliances form a type of global mass surveillance system which is records and monitors the online activities of people residing in the countries that are the part of the alliances.
These alliances have different means of collecting and monitoring the activities of citizens including emails, phone wiretaps, and email communication. Some alliances collect data via your internet service provider (ISP), while others snoop on the VPN logs if you have chosen a VPN that falls under the jurisdiction of these countries. As you must have gathered by now, 5 eyes, 9 eyes, and 14 eyes surveillance is a threat to our privacy and you must understand how it works.
Five eyes alliance is the most threatening of the three alliances as all the member countries of the alliance has an equal right over the data collected via mass surveillance. In the case of 9 eyes and 14 eyes surveillance coalition, all the members are not treated equally. In the two alliances, member countries can provide the required data to other countries but are not entitled to receive any data as it is possible in the five eyes alliance.
Let us have a look at the three alliances and understand more about each of them.
The 5 Eyes Alliance
The Five Eyes Alliance or FVEY is an alliance of countries that was formed way back after the end of World War II. The coalition has strengthened over the years, especially after the infamous 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of America.
Following are the member countries of the Five Eyes Alliance:
- The United Kingdom
- The United States
- New Zealand
The 5 Eyes alliance was formed with the motive of protecting the citizens from foreign cyber attacks and ensuring overall national security but the recent activities of the alliance have revealed that the authorities are focusing more on snooping upon citizens rather than safeguarding them. Popular privacy advocate Edward Snowden exposed the 5 Eyes Alliance and accused them of spying upon their own citizens.
When South African activist Nelson Mandela was arrested by CIA and was put on surveillance by British agents back in 1962, it made clear that the spying activities of the 5 Eyes group is not limited to just five countries.
Besides 5 official partners, the 5 Eyes Alliance has five unofficial member countries as well. These 5 countries include Israel, Japan, Singapore, Germany, and South Korea.
The 9 Eyes Alliance
The 9 Eyes Alliance coalition includes the member countries of the Five Eyes Alliance as well as the following countries:
- The Netherlands
These 9 countries together form what is known as The 9 Eyes Alliance. The 9 Eyes Alliance is considered as an extension of 5 Eyes group and it was formed with a similar objective of sharing data amongst the member countries and mass surveillance. The group was exposed to the world by Edward Snowden in 2013 and has also appeared in many online sources.
The 14 Eyes Alliance
Like 9 Eyes Alliance, 14 Eyes alliance is also an extension of 5 Eyes group. Several nations all over the world have formed a coalition that allows them to form a global network for mass surveillance. Here are the countries that are the part of the 14 Eyes Alliance:
- New Zealand
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- The Netherlands
The official name of the 14 Eyes Alliance is SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR) and the official purpose of the group is coordinating the exchange of military signals intelligence amongst the member countries.
Why Is 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes And 14 Eyes Alliances A Big Thing In The VPN World?
When it comes to choosing the best VPN, it is most important to consider the VPN service that does not fall in either of the member countries of these alliances. If you’re using a VPN that is based in any of countries that are part of 14 Eyes alliance, the authorities can snoop on your data any time.
Choosing a VPN lying outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance is a good decision from a privacy point of view. VPN service providers usually mention the country in which their head office is located and the country under which their jurisdiction falls.
While most VPN companies beat their chest by claiming of ‘strict No Log policies,’ VPNs that fall under the jurisdiction of these 14 countries are never an ideal choice for those who care about their privacy. We would advise you to not to fall the ‘No Logs’ policy of VPN providers and conduct research for yourself.
You can look for any previous incidents in which the chosen VPN service provider was asked to disclose the personal identifiers of their users and what was the stance of the company during such a situation.
According to the Guardian
The Echelon operation is based at Fort Meade in Maryland, America, and at GCHQ in Cheltenham. Agencies from the five countries exchange intercepted transmissions, using supercomputers to flag up any messages containing key words listed in the so-called Echelon ‘dictionaries’. These transmissions are recorded and transcribed for future analysis.
VPN services located in 14 eyes
Before going to trust a VPN service to protect your online identity, check the VPN service you selected in the below list of VPN service which is under 14 eyes countries below.
Avira Phantom VPN (Germany)
Hide My IP (USA)
Hotspot Shield (USA)
My Expat Network (UK)
Norton WiFi Privacy (USA)
Opera Browser VPN (Norway) (Proxy service, it is not a VPN)
Private Internet Access (USA)
RA4W VPN (USA)
Unseen Online (USA)
VPN Gate (Japan)
VPN Land (Canada)
VPN Master (USA)
VPN Unlimited (USA)
WASEL Pro (Netherlands)
Best VPNs Not Situated in 14 Eyes Countries
If privacy is your priority, choose a VPN provider that does not have its head office in any of the 14 countries we have mentioned above. If you are searching for reliable VPNs for privacy, here is a list you can refer to:
With online privacy becoming a matter of grave concern, it is important to know the “Eyes” snooping on you. If you think you are safe from hackers and data-hungry companies, it is possible that the authorities of your own countries are monitoring you. We hope that you must have understood the three different international alliance pursuing the collective mission of mass surveillance and why it is crucial to consider the jurisdiction country before choosing the best VPN.