What Are The 9 Eyes, 6 Eyes And 14 Eyes Countries?

The ‘5 Eyes’ refers to countries that collaborate on data gathering and sharing, as does the phrase “9 Eyes.” The term “14 Eyes” refers to a global surveillance organization made up of 14 nations. Do you want to learn everything about this topic to make sure you have your guard up against this global spy network? Then read our guide to make sure you choose the right precautions or update your knowledge to stay private online.

Ben Grindlow

Ben Grindlow is the founder of ProXPN, a company that provides reviews about VPN products and services. Ben's interest in cybersecurity and privacy led him to start ProXPN, which has become one of the most well-respected VPN providers in the world. Ben is passionate about his work, and he is constantly exploring new ways to improve ProXPN's in-depth guides.

Last updated: 10:10AM 7/5/2022

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The terms ‘Six Eyes’, ‘Nine Eyes’ and ‘Fourteen Eyes’ are designations for countries banding together to cooperatively collect data and exchange communications intelligence with each other.

These watchful countries mainly keep an eye out for:

  • Internet traffic
  • Emails and instant messaging
  • Telephone conversations

The intelligence sharing these coalitions are coupling up for is focused on citizens, companies or agencies suspected of terrorism or other serious crimes.

Who may be linked to this mass surveillance data?

Do you feel that what criminals and terrorists do in their shady corners of the world could have no effect on you or your privacy? You may be interested to learn that, in theory, information and communications from innocent citizens may also be intercepted.

For example, if a random law-abiding person comes into contact with a person suspected of a crime, or even if they live in the vicinity of a criminal, that person may end up on the radar screen of an intelligence alliance and become a target of online surveillance.

How are the coalitions similar?

There are 3 different agreements in effect, namely

  • Five Eyes (United Kingdom, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand)
  • Nine Eyes
  • Fourteen Eyes (SSEUR)

The Five Eyes surveillance alliance, which evolved from the original UK/USA agreement during the Cold War, collaborates most intensively in the field of information gathering and exchange. The involvement by New Zealand and Canada has been somewhat limited.

The eyes have it

The degree of cooperation decreases as more countries become part of an alliance. The Fourteen Eyes countries have the most diluted collaboration. The Nine Eyes countries therefore work more closely together than the Fourteen Eyes countries, but not as closely as the Five Eyes countries.

Overview of countries

Here is a summary of the countries in the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances:

Five Eyes

-United States

– United Kingdom

– Australia

– Canada

– New Zealand

Nine Eyes

-United States

– United Kingdom

– Australia

– Canada

– New Zealand

– Netherlands

– France

– Denmark

– Norway

Fourteen Eyes

-United States

– United Kingdom

– Australia

– Canada

– New Zealand

– Netherlands

– France

– Denmark

– Norway

– Italy

– Germany

– Spain

– Belgium

– Sweden

When the countries share information, communication takes place in the background via a shielded, secure network to which these countries are connected. Other countries are surely curious about this mass surveillance, too.

Protecting your privacy with a VPN

You can protect your privacy from mass surveillance to a great extent by signing up with a VPN provider and using a VPN (virtual private network) served by a VPN server.

A VPN swaps your real IP address with that of an anonymous VPN server. In this way, your own IP address (which you get from your provider) is protected. Therefore, companies, governments and other agencies on the internet cannot deduce your physical location and cannot request information about your IP address from your internet service provider (ISP).

For optimal privacy, it can be smart to choose a VPN service where the provider’s head office is not located in the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliance countries.

In countries within the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes alliances, privacy legislation is generally less favorable to individual internet users and more aimed at addressing national security concerns. For example, a VPN provider may be forced by a court or government agency to cooperate in tracking certain citizens. The information collected can also be shared with the other countries that are part of the alliance.

Intelligence agencies listening in on their own citizens

Many governments and surveillance agencies see an ‘excess’ of privacy as a national security issue. Perhaps in your country, too, government surveillance groups and security services have the authority to intercept internet traffic and other forms of communication.

Should we panic yet?

A key point to remember here is that (at least initially) all these intelligence agencies will only be able to see who is in contact with whom. The content of the communications between two parties can only be viewed at a later stage in the research when the agencies come together to share intelligence.

Also, in many places and certainly in most European countries, before anything can be collected from internet users or even viewed, ministers have to sign documents and independent committees also have to approve the investigations in advance. Data retention laws need to be passed and government agencies need to get on board with the mass surveillance. Intelligence sharing agreements need to be hashed out between all the surveillance agencies to establish who gets to participate in sharing mass surveillance data. Internet service providers and telecommunications companies also must be looped in on such things. Who will store user data (which is likely to accumulate in enormous quantities), and where will they store it?

Realistic expectations

Online privacy is important, but electronic spy stations won’t exactly spring up in your neighborhood overnight to collect user data and other electronic intelligence. Mass surveillance is not quite at your door just yet.

Some people are wary

Many tech-savvy people — and plenty of everyday internet users — have privacy concerns about all the organizations joined together to monitor online traffic under an intelligence sharing agreement. ‘Internet freedom’ and ‘online privacy’ are the watchwords for some citizens, and they are expressing their views to their elected officials and internet service providers.

Choosing a VPN service in a location with favorable privacy laws

Most people cannot easily move to a different country to protect their online privacy. Nor can they readily sign on with internet providers located halfway around the world to supply them with private internet access. But many of us could enjoy some choice regarding the country where our VPN service is based. Some VPN providers choose to establish their headquarters in countries with very favorable privacy rules, such as:

Your online privacy could be well protected by signing on with one of these VPN providers tucked away from all these prying eyes.

Frequently asked questions

The countries in the 14 Eyes group are The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Sweden.

The US, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand make up the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. During World War II, informal meetings between Allied code-breakers in the United States and the UK gave birth to the Five Eyes.

The Five Eyes Alliance (FVEY) is a network of English-speaking nations that collect and analyze the electronic communications of residents and foreign governments. The United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are members of this anglophone group.

NordVPN is based in Panama, which is not a member of the Five Eyes or Fourteen Eyes coalitions and does not demand data retention or access. As a result, regardless of where you are located, it’s an excellent method to preserve your privacy.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are all members of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. During World War II, informal meetings between American and British codebreakers accelerated the creation of the Five Eyes.

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