What Is Five Eyes?
- Short Definition:
- An alliance formed after World War II in order to share sensitive intelligence for the purpose of national security.
- Extended Definition:
Following the end of World War II, the Five Eyes alliance was formed in order to share sensitive intelligence for the purpose of national security. The UKUSA agreement, which established the National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), was signed to help build the alliance. Over time, the alliance expanded to include other countries, such as the Nine and Fourteen Eyes alliances during the Cold War era, and these countries worked in cooperation to share signals intelligence.
In recent years, the Fourteen Eyes Alliance has garnered increased attention due to its implications for the privacy of citizens and its use of virtual private networks (VPNs). It is common knowledge that individuals’ data is being collected more and more, and many countries are now seeking to access the details of these activities. The collective effort of the Alliance has ranged from traditional espionage to more worrying transgressions such as human rights violation.
The listed countries are considered to be official members of the group, however, it is possible that even more countries are part of the intelligence-sharing network. Consequently, certain software applications produced in those countries may still present themselves as avenue for shared information, even if a person is unaware of it.
Countries that Participate in Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, Fourteen Eyes Alliances
The Five Eyes countries include the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The Five Eyes Plus is an information sharing network among the Five Eyes countries plus France, Germany, and Japan, primarily to counter threats from China and Russia. Six Eyes was an agreement proposed between the countries of the Five Eyes, in addition to France, Israel, Singapore, South Korea, and Japan, but was rejected and did not come into effect. The Nine Eyes countries are based on the core Five Eyes group plus Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway. The Fourteen Eyes alliance encompasses the Nine Eyes countries plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Sweden.
For more definitions, check out our dedicated Definitions List.