The Five Eyes Alliance and What It Means for VPN Users

The Five Eyes Alliance and What It Means for VPN Users

You may have heard about the Five Eyes Alliance‘s role in tackling terrorism, but you may not know that it does more than spy on bad actors. In fact, the alliance spies on everyone, and this seriously impacts your online privacy.

In this guide, we’ll break down what the Five Eyes is and what it means for virtual private network (VPN) users.

Key Takeaways

  • The Five Eyes Alliance is an intelligence-sharing alliance that includes the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.
  • The Fourteen Eyes Alliance includes the Five Eyes countries plus nine additional European countries known as the Nine Eyes Alliance.
  • The Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes Alliances collect a huge amount of online information from ordinary citizens.
  • The best way to keep your online data private is to use a VPN that doesn’t log your internet activity and is based in a country outside the Fourteen Eyes Alliance.

What Is the Five Eyes Alliance?

The Five Eyes Alliance is an intelligence-sharing coalition that consists of five countries:

  • The US
  • The UK
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • New Zealand

The alliance was originally developed in the 1940s and 1950s to monitor communications in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc. In recent decades, the alliance has focused heavily on counter-terrorism surveillance. Today, it also monitors communications between Western citizens and Russia and China.

The Nine Eyes Alliance and the Fourteen Eyes Alliance

Beyond the Five Eyes Alliance, intelligence is shared among Western countries through the Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes Alliances.

The Nine Eyes Alliance consists of nine countries, including:

  • The countries of the Five Eyes Alliance
  • France
  • Denmark
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway

The Fourteen Eyes Alliance consists of the following 14 countries:

  • The countries of the Nine Eyes Alliance
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Belgium
  • Sweden

In addition, while not officially part of these alliances, countries such as Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Singapore are believed to share information with the Fourteen Eyes Alliance.

How Does Five Eyes Impact Internet Users?

The precise capabilities of the Five Eyes are hard to know. Leaks from organizations such as the National Security Agency (NSA) have revealed agents can tap into social media activity, emails, video call logs, and more and have a direct line into the servers of firms like Microsoft, Google, and Facebook.

In fact, almost anything you do on the internet that isn’t through encrypted channels is likely visible to the Five Eyes.

Even if you’re a law-abiding internet user, it might worry you how much information the Five Eyes can access about you. At best, this surveillance can feel like an invasion of privacy, but in some cases, it can expose sensitive private information you wouldn’t want government agents to know.

How Can I Keep My Data Private Online?

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You can keep most of your online data private by using a VPN. A VPN encrypts your internet connection, creating a tunnel for information to pass between your computer and the web.

However, you can’t use just any VPN and expect your data to be completely private. VPN providers based in countries that are part of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance could be ordered to turn over data to intelligence agents. Companies in these countries can’t refuse a legal search warrant even if they want to protect users’ data.

Once collected by one member of the Fourteen Eyes Alliance, your data can be shared with all the countries in the alliance.

The best solution is to use a VPN provider based in a country outside of the alliance. Many top VPN providers are based in Central America and Eastern Europe to limit potential data-gathering.

It’s also important that your VPN provider commits to a strict no-logs policy, meaning it doesn’t keep any logs of your internet usage when connected via VPN. This means that even if intelligence agents come knocking, your VPN provider won’t be able to hand over your internet history, even if they wanted to.

Closing Words – The Significance of The Five Eyes Alliance

The Five Eyes Alliance collects a staggering amount of personal data from internet users.

You can protect your privacy, however, by using a VPN service based in a country outside the data-sharing coalition – and you should always look for a VPN provider with a no-logs policy.

You can also check out our guide to the best VPN apps to ensure your online activity is hidden from the Five Eyes.

Five Eyes Alliance FAQs

What is the Fourteen Eyes Alliance?

What VPN providers are outside the Fourteen Eyes Alliance?

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Michael Graw
Technology Expert
Michael Graw
Technology Expert

Michael Graw is an experienced writer in the business and B2B tech fields. His articles can be found on Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Tom’s Guide, and TechRadar, and cover everything from corporate finance to crypto and international tech regulation. A prolific copywriter and entrepreneur, Michael has worked with a wide range of SaaS and tech companies and has his finger firmly on the pulse of B2B tech and finance.