5 Eyes, 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Surveillance Alliances – Ultimate Guide 2019

As more and more people are becoming aware of global surveillance, the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes global surveillance alliances are coming out of the shadows and increasingly in the spotlight. In this guide, you’ll learn everything there is to know about these alliances, and more importantly, how to keep your privacy protected from their prying eyes.

“5 Eyes,” “9 Eyes” and “14 Eyes” are increasingly discussed terms within the privacy community. This is especially true when discussing privacy tools, such as VPNs. These terms are references to global surveillance alliances between the US, UK, Australia, and several other countries around the world.

These international alliances work together to collect and share surveillance information of each country’s citizens on a massive scale. The result is a global surveillance system designed to monitor, record, and share the daily activities of, well, everyone.

The alliances gather information from several sources, including documents, emails, texts, phone wiretaps, and more. In this article, we’ll focus on the very real threat these surveillance alliances pose to their citizens’ online privacy through VPN logs.

As you’ll see, while VPNs are designed to protect and secure the privacy of individuals, VPNs located in any of the countries belonging to these alliances are very at risk. We’ll explain why and provide solutions for this privacy dilemma, but first let’s learn a little more about these “alliances” and which countries belong to them.

5 Eyes Alliance

The 5 Eyes Alliance is a surveillance alliance formed immediately after the end of WWII. The intelligence alliance continued throughout the many decades of the Cold War and strengthened following the events of 9/11.

The countries belonging to the 5 Eyes Alliance include:

• USA
• Canada
• UK
• Australia
• New Zealand

The surveillance agencies of these member countries work together collectively to gather and analyze the online and offline activities of their citizens. The activities of citizens from non-member nations are also monitored.

Not surprisingly, some of these 5 Eyes countries are the worst abusers of online surveillance. For instance, since the passing of the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act, UK telecommunications companies and internet service providers are required to record the text messages, browsing history, and connection times of users. UK government agencies and partner agencies are able to access this data without a warrant at any time.

With the help of large internet service providers and telecoms, the US government has also been implementing mass surveillance for data collection and analysis. In fact, in 2017, the government gave internet service providers the legal authority to not only record user activity but sell it to third parties without the option to opt out. That being said, this has been going on for a long time prior to 2017.

Meanwhile, Australia has followed the footsteps of the US by enacting similar sweeping data collection and retention laws.

Effectually, these global superpowers have used the global terrorist attacks of the early 21st century to expand their domestic surveillance powers. While the official goal of the 5 Eyes Alliance is to protect its citizens and ensure national security, the actual activities of these member countries appear to focus more on the spying of their citizens.

However, according to several domestic laws, government agencies are prohibited from domestic spying. To circumvent these laws, they often subcontract spying activities to other countries, specifically those belonging to one of the “Eyes” Alliances.

While the partnerships between these countries have functioned for decades in the shadows, their activities were exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013. Acting as a whistleblower, he not only exposed their activities, but he exposed their surveillance agreement and how it is used to spy on each country’s own citizens.

In fact, as touched on above, Snowden revealed how the US has been working with telecom companies and ISPs to conduct mass surveillance on its citizens.

Although telecoms and ISPs aren’t currently required to keep online activity logs of their users, they’ve been given permission to sell user activity logs to third parties. This allows US intelligence agencies to potentially access the user data logs via subpoena.

As mentioned, the UK is even worse, and Australia is not far behind. Neither is Canada or New Zealand, both of which conduct spying activities and have data retention laws similar to those of the other 5 Eyes Alliance members.

Nonetheless, if you’re being spied on by a 5 Eyes Alliance member, you’re actually in good company. Several political figures, celebrities, and other prominent individuals have been targets of the group for quite some time. In fact, some more well-known targets include: Angela Merkel, John Lennon, Kim Dotcom, and none other than Nelson Mandela.

As you may know, the South African government considered Mr. Mandela a terrorist. As such, British and US agents placed him under surveillance leading up to his 1962 arrest, which only took place after the CIA handed over data they had been collecting to the South African government.

Since South Africa isn’t a 5 Eyes Alliance member, it’s blatantly clear the alliance’s surveillance activities extend far beyond their own countries.

The ECHELON Surveillance System

The ECHELON Surveillance System is a network of connected spy stations used by the 5 Eyes member countries to conduct data collection and espionage on a grand scale.

According to The Guardian, ECHELON is:

“A global network of electronic spy stations that can eavesdrop on telephones, faxes and computers. It can even track bank accounts. This information is stored in Echelon computers, which can keep millions of records on individuals.

Officially, however, Echelon doesn’t exist. Although evidence of Echelon has been growing since the mid-1990s, America flatly denies that it exists, while the UK government’s responses to questions about the system are evasive.”

While there have been endless denials of the existence of ECHELON, several whistleblowers, including Margaret Newsham and Perry Felwock, have come forward to confirm these sentiments and shed light on what’s happening behind the scenes.

5 Eyes Allies– Unofficial Of Course

The 5 Eyes Alliance unofficially extends beyond the five official partners discussed above. The alliance also includes “unofficial” members who cooperate with certain 5 Eyes countries. However, these unofficial allies aren’t considered equal in status. Therefore, despite providing information to alliance members, they may not receive any in return.

The most well-known unofficial 5 Eyes allies is Israel. It cooperates heavily with the US and frequently provides the NSA, CIA, and other agencies with surveillance information.

Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are surveillance allies in the Pacific, all of which are known to share intelligence information with the US.

On a lesser scale, you could even consider Bermuda, Anguilla, the BVI, the Falklands, and several other island territories as unofficial allies as well. Despite being somewhat independent, each shares information with the UK and other 5 Eyes Alliance members.

9 Eyes Alliance

The 9 Eyes Alliance consists of the 5 Eyes Alliance members, plus:

• France
• Norway
• The Netherlands
• Denmark

It is simply an expansion of the 5 Eyes Alliance, allowing for additional countries to collect large amounts of data on its citizens and share it with other members. Although these second-tier members don’t enjoy the same level of cooperation, they do enjoy the benefits of resource sharing and access to additional data.

14 Eyes Alliance

The 14 Eyes Alliance consists of the 5 Eyes and 9 Eyes Alliance members, plus:

• Germany
• Italy
• Spain
• Belgium
• Sweden

Similar to the 9 Eyes Alliance, the 14 Eyes Alliance is simply an expansion of the other two surveillance alliances, allowing for additional countries to collect large amounts of data and share it with other members.

While these countries have an even less cooperative relationship with the 5 Eyes members, they’re still able to enjoy access to intelligence and resources they otherwise would not.

Now, let’s talk about VPNs, how they relate to the equation, and how you can help ensure your privacy in spite of these alliances.

VPNs In Countries To Avoid

Australia

• 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

VPNs are perfectly legal in Australia, and the popular Pacific nation has zero restrictions on internet access or use. However, due to its longtime standing as a 5 Eyes Alliance member and certain intelligence sharing agreements, the privacy of your data may not be secure if it is stored or passed through the country.

Belgium

• 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Belgians enjoy unrestricted internet access and a government with a strong history of supporting freedom of speech and press. Unfortunately, internet providers in the country are lawfully subject to warrants. It’s also a 14 Eyes Alliance member.

Canada

• 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Canada is one of the only countries in the world to pass an initiative aimed at providing its citizens with universal access to the internet. Canadians also enjoy freedom of speech and press. However, Canada is also a Five Eyes Alliance member, so any data that is stored or passed through the country is subject to longstanding intelligence sharing agreements.

Denmark

• 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Denmark also promotes freedom of speech. In fact, it even has a provision in place to prevent censorship of any kind. Despite also having few internet restrictions, some torrent sites are blocked in the country and ISPs openly cooperate with police initiatives to block the viewing of child pornography. Nearly all Danish citizens are subject to this internet filter. Denmark is also a 9 Eyes Alliance member, so data stored or passed through the country is subject to intelligence sharing and may not be private.

France

• 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

While France is a supporter of freedom of speech and doesn’t filter internet content, there have been a number of government initiatives aimed at altering its stance in an effort to combat terrorist threats and fake news. In addition to being a 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance member, these initiatives have resulted in increased surveillance, data collection, and intelligence sharing with other alliance members.

Germany

• 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Germany has shown a commitment to protecting the freedom and speech and privacy of its citizens, but its commitment is somewhat limited. Recently, a number of legislative measures have passed, allowing Germany to expand its online surveillance powers both domestically and internationally. In fact, German police are allowed to monitor anyone’s online activity, even those who aren’t suspected criminals. Germany is also a 14 Eyes Alliance member.

Italy

• 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Italy’s citizens enjoy freedom of expression, and aside from the filtering of some gambling and child pornography content, they also have unrestricted access to the internet. However, the country’s internet infrastructure is lacking as only 60 percent of Italians have consistent access. Italy also has several internet privacy concerns, one of which requires telecom companies to keep the internet data of users for six years. Of course, Italy is also a 14 Eyes Alliance member.

Netherlands

• 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Citizens of the Netherlands have free and unrestricted access to the internet, but as a 9 Eyes Alliance member, the country has a close relationship with several foreign nations when it comes to intelligence sharing.

New Zealand

• 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

In New Zealand, freedom of speech is supported and there is no mandated online censorship. However, the country is a member of the 5 Eyes Alliance and benefits greatly from the surveillance and intelligence sharing of the network.

Norway

• 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Since access to government information is a constitutional right in Norway, the Scandinavian country is a world leader in providing its citizens with unrestricted internet access. However, it is also a 9 Eyes Alliance member, giving it a close relationship with many international intelligence agencies.

Spain

• 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Freedom of speech, privacy, and personal data are strictly protected according to Spanish law. Unfortunately, due to the relationship between Spain and the many intelligence agencies within the 14 Eyes Alliance, it offers no guarantee of privacy.

Sweden

• 14 Eyes Alliance member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

In Sweden, freedom of speech is protected, most censorship is prohibited, and arbitrary interference with someone’s privacy is banned. Furthermore, intelligence agencies must receive permission from the courts prior to monitoring any type of online traffic, even in matters of national security. Nonetheless, Sweden’s relationship with the various intelligence agencies of the 14 Eyes Alliance means online privacy may be compromised.

United Kingdom

• 5 Eyes Alliance co-founding member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

The UK guarantees its citizens freedom of expression and information. Legally, privacy is also protected, but increased police and government surveillance as of late has many questioning this. The government justifies the trend towards increased surveillance by claiming its crucial in the fight against terrorism. Regardless of its reasoning, this trend along with the country’s status as a co-founding member of the 5 Eyes Alliance makes any questions of privacy more than justified.

United States

• 5 Eyes Alliance co-founding member
• VPNs allowed – Yes

The United States has a long and deeply rooted history of protecting the constitutional rights of its citizens, including freedom of both speech and press. While the US has also expressed a commitment to protecting internet freedoms and privacy, due to recent controversies regarding government surveillance, its access to one of the world’s most sophisticated internet surveillance systems, and its very strong network of surveillance and intelligence agencies, one wonders how committed to privacy it truly is.

Israel

• 5 Eyes Alliance unofficial ally
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Israel is not an official member of the 5 Eyes Alliance or any intelligence sharing network, but it is known to work closely with the United States regarding surveillance initiatives. With Israel’s intelligence agencies rivalling the power of even the NSA, the unofficial relationship between Israel and the 5 Eyes Alliance greatly benefits the US.

Singapore

• 5 Eyes Alliance unofficial ally
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Not unlike some other Asian countries, the Singapore government censors online content through the use of government mandates and by putting both legal and financial pressure on ISPs. Not surprisingly, the government keeps its list of blocked websites secret, and there have been several reports of cooperation with 5 Eyes Alliance surveillance and intelligence initiatives.

South Korea

• 5 Eyes Alliance unofficial ally
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Despite enjoying much more internet freedom than their northern neighbors as well as a constitutional right to the protection of their privacy, South Koreans have limited freedom of political speech and a reason to worry about the state of their online privacy. This is especially true considering South Korea has a well-known history of cooperating with 5 Eyes Alliance intelligence sharing initiatives.

Japan

• Five Eyes Alliance unofficial ally
• VPNs allowed – Yes

Japan has strong freedom of speech protections and prohibits censorship. Its citizens also have free, unrestricted access to the internet. Unfortunately, since the country’s Supreme Court upheld the police’s ability to monitor the internet activity of all Muslim citizens, there have been more and more concerns regarding internet privacy in the island nation. Like South Korea, Japan also has a history of cooperating with the UK, US, and other 5 Eyes Alliance intelligence agencies.

Why does all of this matter?

Simply put, you need to know your country’s online regulations and laws. For instance, can you access certain websites, or can you legally use a VPN in your country? More often than not, the answer to this last question is yes, but this isn’t always the case. If you want to protect your privacy with the use of a VPN, this is a must-know.

You should also be aware of the registered business address of your VPN provider. If you take your online privacy seriously, as you should, most security analysts highly recommend going with a VPN provider that’s based in a country not associated with the 14 Eyes Alliance.

If it is based in any of the countries discussed above, your information may be turned over to the government and shared with other alliance members. Chances are, you won’t even know about the privacy breach.

Protecting Yourself from Prying Eyes

First of all, it’s worth pointing out that if you’re being targeted for enhanced surveillance by the GCHQ or NSA, all we can say is good luck. With their powerful resources, which we don’t even know the full extent of, your privacy is pretty much toast.

That being said, there are some simple ways to make tracking your online activities ten times harder and enjoy a much higher level of security and privacy.

Tip #1 – Use a VPN.

A quality VPN will safely encrypt and effectively anonymize all of your online traffic. With the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances, internet providers in Western nations basically have free reign to snoop on their customers’ activities.

As such, a good VPN is an essential online privacy defense tool. Just make sure you choose one that isn’t located in any of the 14 Eyes member countries.

Tip #2 – Limit your exposure to “smart” devices.

Today’s “smart” devices are certainly convenient, but they’re also potential surveillance tools. Whether it’s the Amazon Alexa sitting in your living room or your beloved smartphone, these so-called smart devices are effective tools for monitoring your activities.

As evidenced in the PRISM program, private companies are working hand-in-hand with the Eyes Alliances and global surveillance state. Consequently, it’s wise to restrict the use of smart devices and opt for alternatives a bit more privacy-friendly.

Tip #3 – Utilize other privacy tools.

From ISPs and third parties to government intelligence agencies, your private data and personal information is at risk without the use of privacy tools, including:

• Secure email service

It was recently revealed that Google keeps a record of all of your online purchases via inbox receipts, and the search giant reads every single email you send and receive as well. Private conversations are also monitored and then analyzed to display targeted ads. To combat this and keep away from Google’s prying eyes, consider using a secure email service.

• Private search engine

Everything you type into Google’s search box is automatically recorded and included in your data profile, so consider using a private search engine instead.

• Secure Browser

If Google Chrome is your browser of choice, your browsing activity is tracked by Google and sent to the company’s ad partners. If you value your privacy, a secure browser is the solution.

• Ad blocker

Ads are little more than tracking tools. If you browse online without an ad blocker, advertising networks can monitor and record your activity. Along with these other tools, a good ad blocker will prevent this and help ensure the privacy of your online activities.

Tip #4 – Take advanced online security and privacy measures.

If you want to take your privacy and security to the next level, you may want to take additional measures, including:

• Use a more secure operating system.

While it may be a hassle, consider switching to a more privacy-friendly Linux operating system.

• Use virtual machines.

Virtual machines can help ensure your privacy and security by acting as separate “virtual” computers on host machines. A VirtualBox can be installed for free, and you can run different Linux virtual machines for different uses to keep your data and host machine safe from prying eyes.

• Use a VPN focused on privacy protection.

A quality multi-hop VPN will encrypt your data across several servers in different countries and jurisdictions for added privacy and security.

• Use a chain of VPNs.

Another option is to chain together different VPN services. For example, you can use one VPN service provider for your router and connect to it via another VPN provider on your computer. This compartmentalizes and distributes risk across multiple VPN providers and ensures a single provider cannot access your online activity and your originating IP address.

For added security, you can even use different VPN providers at different times to keep a single VPN accessing the full scope of your online activities should it be compromised.

Some people don’t trust VPNs or believe they have nothing to hide, but this line of thinking is flawed in several ways.

Firstly, your ISP is likely using DNS requests to track and record all of your online activity. If you live in one of the 14 Eyes member countries, it’s likely your activity data is being provided to or directly accessed by surveillance agencies. From your name and address to your billing information and what you ate for breakfast, your ISP knows everything about you. It simply doesn’t make sense to provide this entity with your browsing activity.

Secondly, VPNs take data tracking and collection out of the hands of your internet provider. A verified no log VPN located in a safe non-14 Eyes jurisdiction provides an extra layer of much-needed protection.

As mentioned, you can also chain and use more than one VPN for even more privacy and security. This is especially effective if the VPNs are located in different jurisdictions. For example, if someone filed a DMCA complaint and wanted to prosecute you for illegally downloading a movie, you would have three layers of protection:

1. Internet provider in Country A

2. VPN server located in Country B

3. VPN server located in Country C

Okay, so you know how important the right VPNs are in protecting your online privacy and security, so let’s have a look at some top VPNs located in non-14 Eyes countries and their territories.

Top 5 VPNs Located Outside 14 Eyes Countries

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is one of today’s most well-known VPN service providers. Not only is it located in Panama outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance jurisdiction, but it also utilizes advanced 2048-bit data encryption and cutting-edge leak protection protocols. Plus, it strictly follows a no-logs policy and has never had a known privacy breach.

In addition to NordVPN’s strict security and privacy protocols, it’s also lightning fast and able to bypass any geoblocks. With a 30-day guarantee as well, it’s no wonder it has become the top choice for internet users with privacy concerns.

2. ExpressVPN

As its name suggests, ExpressVPN is touted for its lightning-fast speeds. However, it’s also known for its ability to get around difficult geoblocks placed on popular content. More impressively, ExpressVPN utilizes enhanced security and privacy features designed to hold up well under pressure. These include several leak-protection protocols and military-grade AES-256-CBC data encryption.

Despite being located in the British Virgin Islands, which is privacy-friendly but a territory of the UK, it has proven time and again that it doesn’t retain data logs of any kind and cannot provide information identifying its users.

ExpressVPN also offers responsive customer support and the ability to support a large number of devices. Like NordVPN, they also provide a 30-day guarantee, plus a free trial for use on all mobile devices.

3. CyberGhost

While lesser known, CyberGhost is another top-quality VPN provider located outside of the 14 Eyes Alliance’s jurisdiction. Based in Romania, it has expressed its commitment to privacy time and time again. As a result, it has a strict no-log policy and impressively provides military-grade AES-256 data encryption along with several other advanced security protocols.

In addition to its security protocols, CyberGhost users also praise the VPN provider for its easy-to-use interface, which conveniently comes with several preconfigured settings to select from according to your preferred streaming services. Similar to the other VPN providers, they also offer a one-week free trial and 45-day “love it or your money back” guarantee.

4. VyprVPN

Based in Swizterland, a non-14 Eyes country that takes online privacy extremely seriously, VyprVPN has stated repeatedly how committed it is to honesty and transparency in dealing with the privacy concerns of its users. This includes a policy of being upfront with users regarding the fact that some of their data is held for 30 days for purposes such as troubleshooting and billing.

While this last bit of information may be troubling for some users, VyprVPN’s honesty in the matter is certainly refreshing and a testament to the quality in which it conducts its business.

In addition to its non-14 Eyes location and honesty, VyprVPN also offers a NAT Firewall to defend against malware, 256-bit encryption, and its proprietary Chameleon technology, which can bypass strict government censorship protocols.

5. Trust.Zone

Trust.Zone is an excellent VPN choice for budget-conscious users with privacy concerns. Not only does it offer AES-256-bit data encryption, but it also features OpenVPN, L2TP, and a kill switch. Plus, like the other privacy-friendly VPNs on this list, it also operates via a no-logs policy.

Based in the Seychelles Islands, Trust.Zone is praised by its users for both its security and speed. You can try out Trust.Zone for free for three days or give it a more serious 10-day test drive and receive a full refund if you’re not impressed with the security, privacy, or service they provide.

A Matter of Jurisdiction….and Trust

Despite the importance of jurisdiction, it’s only one of several factors to consider when choosing the best VPN and privacy tools.

While jurisdiction is in fact a critical consideration, especially considering the increasing power of governments and their ability to literally force companies to give them user data, not all VPN providers are deserving of your trust.

A VPN may operate in a “safe” jurisdiction outside the prying eyes of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes surveillance alliances, but it can still lie to its users and hand over their data too government agencies.

In fact, there have been several cases involving so-called “safe” no-log VPNs giving user data to authorities. Examples of this include IPVanish and PureVPN.

Ultimately, selecting the best VPN and privacy tools boils down to a matter of trust. The five VPNs discussed above not only lie outside of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes jurisdictions, but they’re also proven VPN providers with impressive track records of safeguarding the data of their users.

The Importance of No-Log Policies

With government surveillance growing by leaps and bounds, there are many ways for a VPN provider to fall under various governmental jurisdictions. That’s why the best VPNs follow strict no log policies. By following these policies, they do not keep identifying information of any kind about users and their internet activity.

Take EpressVPN for example. Despite multiple attempts by Turkish authorities to find identifying information about one of its users in relation to a police investigation, the well-known VPN service provider’s strict no log policy kept the officials from finding a single piece of identifying information.

Conversely, there have been some known cases involving supposed “no-log” VPNs handing over sensitive user information to authorities. Needless to say, it’s important to look beyond these claims and find a VPN provider outside the jurisdiction of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries you can fully trust with your privacy.

Extra Protection Measures

In addition to the privacy protection measures discussed thus far, there are a couple of other ways to boost your protection levels and keep your online activities out of sight from the “Eyes” Alliances. Some of these measures include:

• Verify the “No Logs” Claims of VPN Providers

If you’re concerned about your privacy, don’t take the “no logs” claims of VPN providers at face value. Instead, perform some research and try to find any evidence that contradicts or verifies their claims. If they do use data logs, make sure to understand what’s included in them.

• Use Multiple VPNs

We already discussed this, but for your privacy’s sake, let’s go over it again. You can up your privacy game by using more than one VPN. By running one VPN on your devices and another on your router, you can double your protection and online anonymity efforts. Be forewarned, however, that doing so will result in a performance hit and double the chances of your online activity being kept on file.

Eyes Wide Open

No matter your location or even the location of your VPN, always remember the “Eyes” are watching you. By taking these protection measures and practicing safe computing, you can not only protect your online activity from the many surveillance agencies of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances, but you can keep your personal and browsing information safe from hackers and other parties as well.

Online privacy is a huge issue and not a matter to be taken lightly. As international surveillance continues to grow in reach and effectiveness, privacy is becoming a growing concern for today’s internet users.

There are countless examples highlighting the need to worry about the powers of government being able to access your online data and activity, and with intelligence sharing agreements in place to bypass privacy protection laws, there is no better time to worry about your privacy than right now.

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Jamie

My name is Jamie Spencer and I have spent the past 5 years building money making blogs. After growing tired of the 9-5, commuting and never seeing my family I decided that I wanted to make some changes and launched my first blog. Since then I have launched lots of successful niche blogs and after selling my survivalist blog I decided to teach other people how to do the same.

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