5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, & 14 Eyes Countries Review: 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Concerned About It

In this article, I did a complete review of 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, & 14 Eyes Countries and gave 5 reasons Reasons Why You Should Be Concerned About It

If you use a VPN or you are looking for the best VPN service for, there is every possibilities of running into the terms “5 eyes countries,” “9 eyes countries,” and “14 eyes countries”.

I believe your interest at this moment is to find out the absolute truth about 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, & 14 Eyes Countries.

You are in the right place because I explained what they mean, which countries are included, and how they factor into your choice of VPN services.

At the end of this post, we’ll explain all the different “X” eyes surveillance alliances and why this topic is important when choosing privacy tools.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Table of Contents

  1. 5 Eyes
  2. 9 Eyes
  3. 14 Eyes
  4. Developing the ECHELON Surveillance System
  5. Why you should avoid 5 Eyes
  6. Why You Should Be Concerned About It
  7. Why a VPNs jurisdiction matters
  8. Why your VPN should be located outside 14 eyes countries
  9. VPN vs 5 eyes.
  10. The 5 Best VPNs Located Outside 5-Eyes Countries
  11. Summary

1. 5 Eyes

5 Eyes are the oldest of these intelligence alliances, and apparently the most closely knit.

You may not know a good bit about how this alliance came into existence. But, thanks to Edward Snowden, we have some idea of the tools it uses for worldwide surveillance.

But let’s start at the beginning.

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The History of the 5 Eyes.

5 Eyes originally came about as a way for the core countries to share intelligence. It was founded as the informal UKUSA agreement in 1941.

In 1943, they formalized their cooperation with the BRUSA Agreement.

This agreement covered things like the exchange of personnel between their respective intelligence services, as well as regulations for the distribution and use of sensitive information.

The rules from this agreement reportedly became the basis for the SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) activities of the GCHQ in Britain and the NSA in the United States.

In 1946, Official formalization between the UK and USA took place, the BRUSA Agreement was renamed the UK/USA Agreement to reflect the addition of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand to the SIGINT alliance.

This alliance is currently referred to as the Five Eyes or FVEY.

Hence, the 5 Eyes consist of:

  • US
  • UK
  • Australia
  • Canada and
  • New Zealand

In other words, 5 Eyes is an easy way to describe the classification level of documents that can only be viewed by ‘eyes’ from these five countries.

2. 9 Eyes

Just as the 5 eyes consist of a group of five countries that shares information, 9 Eyes is a group of nine countries that does the same, “shares information”.

The existence of the Nine Eyes (a.k.a. 9-Eyes) alliance and its membership was part of the information leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.

The 9 Eyes consists of the same members of 5 Eyes plus

  • Denmark
  • France
  • The Netherlands and
  • Norway

While we don’t know a whole lot about the inner workings of the 9 Eyes, it is reported to be the second-highest level of intelligence sharing conducted by the United States.

It isn’t even clear to us whether there is a formal alliance or a treaty or any piece of paper that lays out precisely what the relationship is between the 9 Eyes countries.

Although the 9-Eyes countries shares a lot, not all information that 5 Eyes knows gets passed on to the rest of the group.

3. 14 Eyes

Just like above, the 14 eyes are fourteen countries sharing information. They include the same members of 9 Eyes plus

  • Belgium
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Spain and
  • Sweden

They are apparently the next level of intelligence sharing, getting more than the rest of the world, but less than the 9-Eyes.

The 14-Eyes group is also known as the SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR) as its main formal name.

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4. Developing the ECHELON Surveillance System.

The FVEY created the ECHELON surveillance system to initially monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, Though it is now used to monitor and pry into billions of private communications worldwide.

During the late 1990s, the public was informed on the existence of ECHELON, which triggered a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress.

Efforts were made by the ongoing War on Terror since 2001 so that the FVEY can expand its surveillance capabilities, and placed more emphasis on monitoring the World Wide Web.

Edward Snowden who was the former NSA contractor described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organization that don’t answer to the known laws of its own countries”.

In 2003, documents leaked by Snowden revealed that the FVEY spied on one each other’s citizens and shared the collected information within each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on surveillance of citizens.

5. Why you should avoid 5 Eyes

In spite of the continued controversy over its methods, the 5 Eyes relationship remains one of the most comprehensive known espionage alliances in history.

While there are privacy concerns with countries in 9 and 14 Eyes alliances, the big one to avoid is the Five Eyes (US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) Which I will tell you the reason below.

Therefore, it is advisable to avoid the Five Eyes when data security is critical.

There are many examples proving the risks associated with privacy-focused companies operating in 5 Eyes jurisdictions.

Here are just a few that we’ve discussed before on Restore Privacy:

Riseup, a Seattle-based VPN and email service, was forced to collect user data for government agents and was also hit with a “gag order” to prevent any disclosure to their users. (They also could not update their warrant canary.)

Lavabit, another US-based email service, was basically forced to shut down after the US government demanded encryption keys and full access to user emails. (Rather than comply, the owner closed the business.)

IPVanish, a US-based VPN service, was forced to collect user data for an FBI criminal investigation, all while claiming to be a “no logs VPN” and not alerting its users to what was happening.

HideMyAss, a UK VPN service was also ordered by a court to collect user data and hand this over to authorities for a criminal investigation. News about this came out after-the-fact.

The 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances are considered extensions of the original 5 Eyes Alliance. While these countries may not all share as much information with each other as the 5 Eyes Alliance, they still actively and willingly participate in international intelligence-sharing.

6. Why You Should Be Concerned About It.

The mass surveillance and data logging practices carried out by the international intelligence club poses a significant threat to the privacy of users across the globe. How you might wonder?

  1. For starters, the government can easily peak into your confidential emails.
  2. They can monitor your internet search behavior and can see what you are mostly involved in on the Internet.
  3. They can even tap phones or VoIP communications.
  4. They don’t need anyone’s permission to share the data, and you would never know where your confidential data would eventually land.
  5. All in all, your privacy always remains under the mercy of the Five Eyes or 14 Eyes alliance.

7. Why a VPNs jurisdiction matters.

All VPN providers need to have a fixed address and location to run their business in order to be able to provide service for their subscribers.

It is very important to know where a VPN is located because the VPN service must operate in accordance with corporate and criminal laws guiding their jurisdiction, and this includes any data retention laws that they may be subjected to.

Depending on the laws that your VPN is obliged to abide by, the country it operates out of governs its VPN jurisdiction, and hence, how much of your data is still being subjected to retention.

8. Why your VPN should be located outside 14 eyes countries.

The whole point of using a Virtual Private Network for many is exactly like its name suggests, to stay private. A VPN service is meant for netizens to be able to maintain their privacy while browsing on the Internet, feeling secured and not for it to be some extra instrument for governments’ surveillance.

Because of the information sharing that goes on between the these alliance country and their partners, a VPN in these countries could very well face threats by governments of these countries asking for access to any customer data in obedience to the law.

On top of that, those VPN providers could even be forced to keep it in secret by not informing their customers about it! The customer goes about the net not knowing he or she is no longer safe. (Hence the importance of a warrant canary for your VPN).

9. VPNs vs the 5 Eyes

VPN was originally developed due to concerns about privacy laws, confidentiality, and even the legality of accessing some content.

This is because installing a VPN permits you to get past the geographical blocks and use websites that are supposed to be blocked in your country.

Netflix for instance, blocks most of its U.S content to other foreign countries. In the same way, those staying in the United States may not be able to access TV shows and movies shown in South America.

VPNs create a loophole around this sort of restriction and allow users to reach blocked websites.

It should be obvious why the 5 Eyes surveillance alliance is not a big fan of VPNs. They want to know that online activity is being monitored. VPNs make it more difficult to do that.

10. The 5 Best VPNs Located Outside 5-Eyes Countries

NordVPN.

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NordVPN is a known VPN that operates in Panama, outside the jurisdiction of the 14-eyes Alliance. This means that NordVPN can’t be forced to hand over your data to any government.

Other security features include

  • 2048-bit encryption
  • strict no-logs policy
  • High security
  • Speed
  • NordVPN also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
  • NordVPN can unblock Netflix, HBO, Hulu, and Sling TV.
  • Supports torrenting
  • NordVPN works on these devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It’s also compatible with routers.

Visit NordVPN

ExpressVPN

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ExpressVPN is known for its lightning-fast streaming speeds and the ability to bypass tough geo-blocks on popular content.

Even more impressive is the way that ExpressVPN’s competitive privacy and security features hold up under pressure.

ExpressVPN, based in the privacy-friendly British Virgin Islands, has conclusively proved that it does not retain any data logs and is unable to provide any identifying information on its users to governments.

Other top security features include

  • AES 256-CBC military-grade encryption
  • Responsive customer support.
  • ExpressVPN also offers a 30-day Money-back guarantee
  • ExpressVPN can unblock Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and BBC iPlayer.
  • Supports torrenting
  • ExpressVPN works on these devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Android TV, Linux, Chrome, and Firefox. It also offers an app for use with certain routers.

Visit ExpressVPN

CyberGhost

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CyberGhost operates outside the jurisdiction of the 14-eyes Alliance in privacy-friendly Romania. CyberGhost has repeatedly expressed its commitment to user privacy, and it takes its no-logs policy very seriously.

CyberGhost also boasts

  • Impressive AES-256 encryption
  • Ease of use
  • Customers support
  • 7-day free trial
  • 45-day money-back guarantee.
  • CyberGhost can unblock Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Sky Go, Hulu, ESPN, and others.
  • Supports torrenting:
  • CyberGhost works on these devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Amazon Fire Stick, Android TV, Linux, and Chrome.

Visit Cyberghost

VyprVPN

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VyprVPN is based in Switzerland, a country outside of the 14-eyes Alliance that takes internet privacy very seriously.

VyprVPN and its parent company, Golden Frog, have stated a commitment to transparency and honesty when it comes to privacy concerns.

Customers who are extremely concerned about privacy should know that VyprVPN is open about the fact that some user data is kept for up to 30 days for billing and troubleshooting purposes.

VyprVPN offers

  • 256-bit encryption
  • Bypass tough government censorship
  • Offers new users a 30-day money-back guarantee.
  • VyperVPN can unblock Netflix, Hulu, BBC iPlayer.
  • Supports torrenting
  • VyperVPN works on these devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, Routers, Android TV, QNAP, Blackphone, Anonabox.

Visit VyprVPN

Trust.Zone

trust.zone

Trust.Zone is a great choice for privacy-conscious users who are looking for affordable VPN protection.
Trust.Zone is also based in the Seychelles islands outside the jurisdiction of the 14-eyes Alliance.

Trust.Zone gives users a warrant canary, indicating that no government has every asked Trust. Zone for any user details.

Trust. Zone’s security features include

  • AES-256-bit encryption
  • A kill switch, OpenVPN, and L2TP over IPSec.
  • No-logs policy
  • 3-day free trial
  • 10-day money-back guarantee.

Visit Trust.zone

11. Summary

The 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes groups are an essential part of a global surveillance and espionage system that feeds into the GCHQ, NSA, and other intelligence agencies.

Snowden’s leaks revealed some of what these organizations do, but it is unlikely we will ever know the full details.

The mass surveillance and data logging practices carried out by the international intelligence club poses a significant threat to the privacy of users across the globe

But that doesn’t mean you should give up on protecting your online privacy.

The world is full of hackers, identity thieves, and other creeps that don’t have the resources of the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies.

Preventive steps like using a VPN can still protect you from the threats you are most likely to face on the internet.

I hope my 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes review has been able to paint a clearer picture of what 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes is really about.

At this point, you should be able to make a more informed decision.

Please don’t hesitate leave your opinions in the comment section below.

Lastly, if you enjoyed reading this, just help us share this on your social media so that others can see it.

Thanks.

Maryjane Ibeabuchi
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