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The 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance & VPN Jurisdiction Explained (2023)

eyes alliance and vpn jurisdiciton

In an increasingly interconnected world, concerns about online privacy and surveillance have become paramount. As individuals seek to safeguard their personal data and ensure their online activities remain confidential, understanding the intricacies of intelligence-sharing alliances is crucial.

This comprehensive guide dives deep into the complex landscape of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances and VPN jurisdiction, providing up-to-date information for 2023. We explore the origins, scope, and implications of these alliances, shedding light on the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes, and their impact on global surveillance and privacy.

Get a VPN outside 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance Countries in a privacy-friendly VPN Jurisdiction

We’ll also delve into the importance of VPN jurisdiction, highlighting how the choice of a VPN service provider and the jurisdiction it operates in can significantly influence the level of privacy and security one can achieve. 

Join us on this journey as we unravel the complexities of the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances and VPN jurisdictions, enabling you to reclaim your online privacy and take proactive steps toward safeguarding your digital identity in 2023 and beyond.

Shortlist: Best VPNs Outside 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance Countries:

  1. NordVPN – Best-rated VPN in Panama VPN Jurisdiction
  2. ExpressVPN – premium VPN based in the British Virgin Islands
  3. CyberGhost – Romania-based simple VPN

Explaining the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances

The intelligence-sharing alliances known as the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes are cooperative networks among various countries. The main purpose of these alliances is to facilitate the exchange of information and resources for surveillance and security. With that in mind, let’s go over each security alliance in more detail to see how it operates and what countries it includes:

The 5 Eyes Alliance

5 eyes alliance countries

The Five Eyes Alliance is an intelligence-sharing alliance among five English-speaking countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It is one of the oldest and most well-known international intelligence-sharing agreements.

The alliance was formed during the post-World War II era, initially as a signals intelligence (SIGINT) alliance focused on intercepting and sharing communications intelligence. 

As the Cold War deepened, the 5 Eyes Alliance was also used to surveillance communication in the Soviet Union and countries of the Eastern Block. Nowadays, it has expanded to monitor communications worldwide.

The name “Five Eyes” refers to the five participating countries and their close collaboration in sharing information. The primary purpose of the alliance is to share signals intelligence information, such as intercepted communications, electronic data, and other related intelligence activities. 

The Five Eyes countries collaborate closely and share their intelligence resources, capabilities, and technologies. This allows them to pool their efforts and maximize their effectiveness in monitoring global communications and collecting intelligence.

The Five Eyes international alliance is known for its extensive global surveillance activities, which involve intercepting and analyzing a vast amount of communications data from various sources, including phone calls, emails, and Internet traffic. 

The members of the alliance exchange intelligence information and cooperate in areas such as counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cybersecurity.

Supporters argue that the alliance plays a crucial role in maintaining national security and countering global threats. That said, the tendency for enhanced surveillance has also put the alliance under the spotlight.

The extensive surveillance capabilities of the alliance, coupled with the bulk collection of data, have raised questions about the balance between security and individual rights. Critics argue that mass surveillance programs can infringe upon people’s privacy and create a chilling effect on freedom of expression. 

After all, there has been evidence of Five Eyes countries using this alliance to circumvent their privacy laws and spy on their own citizens. 

More specifically, there have been several examples in the US and the United Kingdom of national surveillance agencies exploiting this power to collect user data.

The 9 Eyes Alliance

9 eyes alliance countries

The Nine Eyes Alliance is an extension of the Five Eyes Alliance. This organization includes the original five countries plus four additional members: 

  • Denmark
  • France
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway

Like the Five Eyes, the Nine Eyes Alliance focuses on information sharing and signals intelligence cooperation among its member countries. 

While the specific details of the Nine Eyes alliance’s activities are not publicly disclosed, it is generally understood that the expanded network allows for a broader range of intelligence gathering and sharing, thereby enabling a more comprehensive approach to address global security challenges.

The 14 Eyes Alliance

14 Eyes Alliance Countries

The Fourteen Eyes alliance, also known as SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR), is an expansion of the Five Eyes and Nine Eyes alliances. It includes all the Nine Eyes countries and adds five additional countries: 

  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Like its predecessors, Fourteen Eyes countries focus on intelligence cooperation and sharing information among its member countries.

Third-Party Contributors to the Alliances

The 14 Eyes countries remain widely accepted as those that actively participate in sharing intelligence data. However, there are a few other contributors that aren’t officially a part of any of the three mass surveillance alliances.

Certain countries outside the core alliances, such as Singapore, Israel, and South Korea, have been identified as potential third-party contributors, although the extent of their involvement remains less known and subject to speculation. 

NATO members Iceland, Greece, Hungary, and other European countries are also considered third-party contributors to the global intelligence alliance. Moreover, even small British Overseas Territories have been noted as contributors, especially when it comes to collaborating with the UK government.

However, perhaps the most prominent third-party contributor is Japan. The specific nature and extent of any direct cooperation between Japan and the Five Eyes alliance have not been officially confirmed or publicly disclosed. 

Still, Japan is often referred to as the “Sixth Eye” in the Five Eyes organization. It is widely known that Japan has a close sharing relationship with the United States and has collaborated with other countries on specific security initiatives.

Surveillance Systems Utilized by the Alliances and the Data Collected

National intelligence agencies and international surveillance alliances have become a more prevalent topic among many privacy-conscious online users. Still, not many people know what surveillance systems and tools these intelligence services use. 

So, to give you a comprehensive overview of how these agencies operate, we should go over the specific systems used to collect communications data and other information:

ECHELON – The Global Signals Intelligence Network

ECHELON is a global SIGINT network established by the Five Eyes countries of the United States, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. 

It is believed to have been created during the Cold War era and was initially designed to monitor and intercept military and diplomatic communications from the Soviet Union and its allies.

The network operates by intercepting and processing vast amounts of communications data from various sources, such as satellites, fiber-optic cables, and other telecommunications infrastructure. 

ECHELON’s capabilities are focused on automated systems for keyword scanning and filtering, allowing analysts to target specific information or keywords of interest. Reportedly, it can monitor everything from telephone calls to bank account activity.

According to Edward Snowden’s leaked documents, ECHELON’s intercepting stations are located all over the globe. Most stations are operated by the US National Security Agency, while some also include intelligence agencies from other countries.

PRISM – Data Collection Program by the NSA

PRISM is a data collection program operated by the National Security Agency of the United States. It came to public attention in 2013 when classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden revealed its existence. 

PRISM is designed to facilitate the collection of digital communications and information from various Internet companies.

PRISM data collection scheme

*Official government slide showing when different tech companies started complying with the NSA’s data requests.

Under the PRISM program, the NSA reportedly obtained direct access to the servers of major tech companies, including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook, and others. This access allowed the NSA to collect mass surveillance data, including emails, photos, videos, documents, and other forms of digital communication. 

The program was purportedly used for foreign intelligence purposes, aiming to gather information on potential threats to national security.

XKeyscore – Surveillance Tool for Analyzing Internet Communications

The US is widely known as the unfortunate global leader when it comes to online surveillance. So, it comes as no surprise that XKeyscore is yet another tool from the workshop of its notorious intelligence agency. 

This s a system used for collecting and analyzing vast amounts of Internet communications data, including emails, online chats, search history, and more.

XKeyscore Surveillance tool

XKeyscore is designed to search and filter through this immense volume of data, allowing analysts to target and retrieve information based on specific search queries and selectors. The system reportedly enables the NSA to perform deep packet inspection.

In simpler words, this tool provides a comprehensive view of individuals’ online activities, including their online identities, connections, and interactions. 

It allows analysts to track and monitor communications patterns, identify potential targets of interest, and uncover associations between individuals or groups.

Why Should You Avoid the 5 Eyes?

Avoiding the Five Eyes alliance can be a strategic choice for individuals concerned about privacy and surveillance. Here are some reasons why you might consider avoiding the Five Eyes:

  • Extensive Surveillance — Five Eyes countries have a history of engaging in extensive surveillance activities, both domestically and internationally. This can result in a higher likelihood of your online activities and communications being monitored or intercepted.
  • Data Sharing — The intelligence agencies within Five Eyes have a long-standing practice of sharing intelligence information, including personal data, with one another. This collaboration can potentially lead to your information being shared among multiple countries without your knowledge or consent.
  • Legal Frameworks — The member countries have laws and legal frameworks that grant significant powers to intelligence agencies for surveillance and data collection purposes. These laws may allow for bulk data collection, warrantless surveillance, and other practices that could infringe upon privacy rights.
  • Limited Accountability — The intelligence activities conducted by the Five Eyes countries often operate under a veil of secrecy, making it challenging to hold them accountable for any potential misuse or overreach. The lack of transparency can undermine individuals’ trust and limit the ability to challenge or scrutinize these practices.
  • Data Retention — Most Five Eyes countries may have unfavorable data retention laws that require Internet service providers to store user data for extended periods. This data could potentially be accessed or shared with government agencies, even if you are not directly targeted.
  • International Cooperation — The Five Eyes alliance has established relationships with other intelligence-sharing networks and countries, leading to an interconnected web of surveillance. Avoiding the Five Eyes countries can reduce the chances of your data being subjected to further surveillance through these international cooperation efforts.

Implications for VPN Users and Their Privacy

The implications of a VPN jurisdiction being in a country that belongs to one of these surveillance alliances is very apparent. In fact, the importance of the VPN jurisdiction being in a privacy-friendly location directly stems from the motivation to avoid the aspects we’ve just listed above.

If a VPN provider is located in one of the 14 Eyes countries, there might come a time when it will have to share user data if a government agency comes knocking on its doors. 

Not only that, but the data collected can then be shared with the rest of the countries involved in the alliance.

With all of that in mind, opting for VPN services based in privacy-friendly countries outside the alliance jurisdictions, selecting VPN providers with strict no-logs policies, strong encryption, and transparent privacy practices can help protect user privacy in the face of these alliances’ surveillance activities. 

Measures to Protect Your Privacy

Data protection

Knowing that governments actively spy on Internet users is a worrying notion. However, while it is a disturbing and privacy-invasive practice, you’re not completely defenseless against it. Here are some measures you can apply to protect your privacy:

  • Use a VPN — A reputable VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and masks your IP address, making it harder for surveillance entities to monitor your online activities and trace them back to you. The VPN should use strong encryption, a no-logs policy, and a kill switch. Most importantly, it shouldn’t be located in one of the Fourteen Eyes nations. 
  • Encrypted Messaging and Email Services — Use end-to-end encrypted messaging apps and email services to protect the content of your communications from surveillance. Services like Signal and ProtonMail offer strong encryption and privacy features.
  • Secure Browsers and Privacy Extensions — Utilize privacy-focused web browsers such as Firefox or Brave, and install browser extensions like HTTPS Everywhere and Privacy Badger to enhance your online privacy by blocking tracking and encrypting your connections.
  • Minimize Data Sharing — Be mindful of the information you share online and on social media. Limit the personal details you disclose, and adjust your privacy settings on social media platforms to control the visibility of your information.
  • Regularly Update Software — Keep your operating system, applications, and devices up to date with the latest security patches. This helps protect against vulnerabilities that can be exploited for surveillance purposes.

Top 3 VPNs Located Outside the Fourteen Eyes Countries

1. NordVPN

NordVPN is arguably the best VPN service you can get for maximum online privacy. This provider is based in Panama, which isn’t a part of any international surveillance alliance. 

Plus, it has a strict no-logs policy, meaning that it doesn’t even collect any of your online browsing data.

NordVPN Threat Protection

Additionally, NordVPN’s Threat Protection feature protects you from ads, trackers, and malware. Of course, you can also count on standard features like a kill switch, dedicated IP options, and more.

NordVPN offers VPN servers in 60 countries worldwide, providing you with great connectivity options, no matter your real location. 

With military-grade data encryption and advanced protection features, it’s more than capable of keeping you safely hidden from any and all prying eyes. 

2. ExpressVPN

Like NordVPN, ExpressVPN is based in a very privacy-friendly location, in this instance, the British Virgin Islands

Furthermore, like our top pick, this provider also has a no-logs policy, so it doesn’t record any user data.

ExpressVPN UI

While ExpressVPN might lack some of NordVPN’s features, it still delivers in many fields. It uses TrustedServer technology, which ensures maximum privacy. All servers run on RAM only, and there’s no information written on hard drives.

Looking at some of its additional features, ExpressVPN has strong 256-bit encryption, and a kill switch, and runs its own private, encrypted DNS. It also employs an in-house Lightway protocol.

3. CyberGhost

The third pick on our list, CyberGhost, is based in the European country of Romania. While this might concern some users, as Romania is part of the EU, there’s no reason to worry. This country has very friendly privacy laws and isn’t a member of any of the above-listed surveillance alliances.

CyberGhost Interface

CyberGhost comes with tons of advanced privacy and security features. It uses strong encryption, RAM-only servers, DNS leak protection, and a kill switch. It also provides its users with the option of purchasing dedicated IPs for even stronger anonymity.

VPN Providers Located Inside the 14 Eyes Countries

Besides sharing VPN providers based out of the Fourteen Eyes countries, let’s also go over a few examples of services that have headquarters in a country that’s part of the alliance:

  • Surfshark — Surfshark is one of the best VPN providers you can get. However, from an online security and privacy standpoint, its headquarters might make it an unfavorable choice. It is based in the Netherlands, one of the Nine Eyes nations.
  • Atlas VPN — Atlas VPN is regularly one of our top recommendations on most lists. Still, as a VPN provider based in the US, it is required to comply with any requests to share user data that comes from US security agencies.
  • PrivateVPN — A convenient, fast, and very user-friendly VPN, PrivateVPN is unfortunately based in Sweden. As Sweden is one of the Fourteen Eyes countries, there are better picks for privacy-conscious users.
  • Private Internet Access — PIA is a great VPN provider overall, with the most extensive server network in the industry. Unfortunately, this VPN company is based in Denver, Colorado, meaning that it operates under US jurisdiction.

All four above-listed VPN companies are trusted and have a solid reputation in the industry. With that in mind, the country they’re based in doesn’t mean you should avoid using them. 

However, if you want to minimize the potential of putting your sensitive data at risk, it’s always better to go with a VPN service located in a country that doesn’t participate in any intelligence-sharing arrangements. If a VPN in one of the Fourteen Eyes nations gets subpoenaed, they will have to share their identifiable data logs or even encryption keys.

Using a VPN Based in a Fourteen Eyes Country? – A Warrant Canary Is A Must

A warrant canary is important for a VPN because it serves as a transparency measure to protect user privacy and maintain trust. 

By publishing a warrant canary statement, they provide users with information about the absence of data-sharing requests or surveillance activities, assuring them that their privacy is being respected.

In some jurisdictions, government agencies can issue National Security Letters to collect data or similar requests without the need for a warrant or the ability to notify the individual involved. 

These requests often come with strict gag orders that prevent the recipient from disclosing the request. By using a warrant canary, VPN services indirectly communicate to users whether they have received such requests or surveillance orders.

A warrant canary can act as an early warning system. If the warrant canary suddenly disappears or changes without explanation, it may indicate that the VPN provider has received a data-sharing request or surveillance order. This can alert users to potential compromises of their privacy.

However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of warrant canaries can be limited.  Considering this, warrant canaries should be seen as an imperfect but useful tool for transparency and maintaining user trust in VPN services.

Additional Privacy Measures to Consider

In addition to the privacy tips we’ve outlined earlier, there are a few general privacy measures we want to draw your attention to. Here’s what you can do to further protect your Internet activity:

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) — Enable 2FA for your online accounts whenever possible. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a code sent to your mobile device, in addition to your password.
  • Secure Passwords — Use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information, and consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords securely.
  • Ad-Blockers and Privacy Extensions — Install browser extensions that block intrusive ads, trackers, and cookies. These extensions can help protect your privacy by preventing third parties from collecting data about your Internet activity.
  • Privacy Settings — Review and adjust the privacy settings on your social media accounts, online services, and applications. Limit the amount of personal information you share and consider opting for stricter privacy settings to restrict data collection and sharing.
  • Secure Cloud Storage — When storing files and documents in the cloud, choose reputable and secure cloud storage providers that offer end-to-end encryption and robust security measures.
  • Educate Yourself — Stay informed about privacy best practices, emerging privacy threats, and evolving technologies. Regularly educate yourself about privacy tools, legislation, and news that can help you make informed decisions to protect your privacy online.

Frequently Asked Questions about the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances and VPNs

Are the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliances the only international surveillance networks?

No, the 5/9/14 Eyes alliances are not the only international surveillance networks. While they are among the most well-known and significant intelligence-sharing alliances, there are other similar networks and partnerships that exist for the same reasons.

Why is it called the 5 Eyes Alliance?

The term “Five Eyes” refers to the core group of countries that form the intelligence-sharing alliance. Each of them represents one “eye” in this metaphorical sense. The term is symbolic of the surveillance and intelligence cooperation among these nations.

Is Iceland part of the 14 Eyes?

No, Iceland is not a part of Fourteen Eyes. This Nordic island nation has very privacy-friendly laws that provide individuals with rights and protections regarding the collection, storage, and use of their personal data.

Is Switzerland part of the 14 Eyes?

No, Switzerland is not one of the 14 Eyes countries. It’s often recognized for its strong privacy laws and a long-standing commitment to data protection. It has a history of safeguarding privacy rights and is a favorable location for data protection.

Does it matter where the VPN provider is based?

Yes, the country in which a VPN is based can have implications for privacy and data protection. The jurisdiction of a VPN can influence the legal framework it operates under, data retention policies, and government surveillance practices, among other factors.

How do intelligence agencies within the Five Eyes alliance work together?

Intelligence agencies within the Five Eyes countries work together through a collaborative partnership. Here are some key aspects of their cooperation:

  • Information Sharing
  • Joint Operations
  • Technical Cooperation
  • Regular Meetings and Conferences

What countries are in the 14 eyes?

The 14 Eyes Alliance, also known as SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR), includes the following countries:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • Sweden

Conclusion – Safeguarding Your Privacy in a Global Surveillance Landscape

Safeguarding your privacy is becoming an increasingly vital endeavor. With the pervasive nature of surveillance and data collection, individuals must be proactive in protecting their personal information and online activities. 

Knowing how these surveillance agencies work and the extent of their power can help you develop the best practices for retaining at least a baseline level of online privacy. With that in mind, there still are ways you can protect yourself from the prying eyes of government agencies. 

Along with the tips discussed above, VPNs are the best tools for protecting your private information. If you’re a privacy-conscious online user, investing in a safe and private VPN service is a very sensible decision in 2023.

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