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How To Use VPNs In 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes & 14 Eyes countries

These weird sounding names refer to international surveillance treaties between countries, much like trade treaties. This, of course, affects the use of VPNs within these territories. How? You will get more information on all that later, but first, here’s a sneak peek of what else you are going to learn in this article:

  • What exactly is the Five Eyes alliance, what’s the story behind it?
  • Which countries are part of this?
  • Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, Fourteen Eyes alliances, and VPN, how are they related?
  • Great VPN services outside Five Eyes group of countries that you can use
  • How to keep your data safe from the Five Eyes surveillance

What are Five Eyes, Nine Eyes & Fourteen Eye Alliances?

information spreading around the world online

For someone that has not heard of any of this before, that many “eyes” can seem confusing.

The terms stand for surveillance alliances among countries that have decided to share sensitive information on security and surveillance data with one another.

The number before the “eyes” points to the number of countries that are signatories to that particular pact.

These alliances have been around since World War II and have been effectively spying on people since then.

How this all works is that state intelligence agencies of countries included in these pacts work hand in hand with your internet service providers (ISPs) and huge tech companies to gather information about citizens from key infrastructures.

These pacts have been documented quite extensively, so they are definitely not just theory.

Nonetheless, there are some simple ways to protect yourself from the prying eyes, which will be discussed in a bit.

Historical Background

The Five Eyes pact was born from a Cold War-era intelligence treaty known as the UKUSA agreement. This started off as an intelligence agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom that was set up to decrypt intelligence from Soviet Russia.

These humble beginnings cannot predict how huge and important this alliance will become. Later in the 1950s, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand joined the pact. And so the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance was born.

All of this was kept as a closely guarded secret until 2003. It all became public knowledge after Edward Snowden leaked some documents he had access to while in the employ of the NSA.

Edward Snowden is an American Whistleblower, who was an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) before he exposed several global surveillance programs of the NSA and the Five Eyes Alliance countries. His brave actions put a spotlight on national security and the privacy rights of the American Citizens.

The documents proved the government’s spying on citizen’s online activities as well as the expansive nature of these intelligence pacts. A lot more countries joined in later to form the Nine Eyes and then the Fourteen Eyes intelligence pacts.

What Do These Intelligence Countries Have To Do With VPN

robot checking peoples profiles

These countries that are members of the intelligence pacts have citizens that use the internet and VPNs.

This means that the information they gather from their own citizens can be shared with any other countries in the pact.

The main issue to consider here is that who has jurisdiction over what you do online when you are using a VPN?

Think about it, is it the country where you are browsing from? Or the location of the server that you are using? Or the business location of your VPN provider?

You might not know the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain, if you want to stay safe online, you should familiarize yourself with the privacy laws and practices of not just the country you are browsing from, but also that of the countries where the servers you are using are located.

If you look at what has been happening in the past few years, you would notice that VPNs are not immune to the regulatory oversight of these eye alliance countries:

  • For example, in Seattle, a Virtual Private Network startup was strong-armed into collecting data for US government agents in addition to being slapped with a gag order.
  • Also in the US, IPVanish, a US-based VPN service was forced to collect data for an FBI criminal investigation while they advertised being a “no-logs” Virtual Private Network company.
  • Similarly, a UK Virtual Private Network service known as HideMyAss was ordered by a court to provide authorities with user information which was to be used for an investigation.

These are only a few instances of this happening, it is almost certain there are more examples of this breach of information.

Five Eyes VPN

list of five eyes countries alliance members

In all the Five Eyes nations, VPN use is legal. They all pride themselves on freedom of speech and the use of the internet. But then, you should take this with a grain of salt as they can and do spy on your activities online.

As far as VPN use goes, if you connect to a server located in a FVEY country through a Virtual Private Network from a country outside the 5 eye alliance, then the 5 eye country can subpoena your Virtual Private Network service to provide connection logs or even monitor your connection on their own. This also applies to all the other treaty countries.

To keep yourself from prying eyes of governments, the best you can do is go for VPNs that are based outside of any of the treaty countries. In addition, try to stay away from servers in any of those countries too.

Nine Eyes VPN

list of nine eyes countries

VPN use is legal in all the Nine Eyes countries. In fact, citizens of Norway are known to enjoy some of the most unfettered access to the internet in the world.

But as they are all a part of the alliance, these countries also have unrestricted access to your data when necessary, especially for cracking down on practices like child pornography.

Fourteen Eyes VPN

list of 14 eyes countries

Same as the other alliance countries, VPNs are totally legal in all the Fourteen Eyes countries. But some of these countries require internet service providers to retain information from about 2 years to up to 6 years. They can also legally request for user data in some special circumstances and share that data with other alliance countries.

What Is The Best VPN Outside Five Eyes Countries?

Five Eyes intelligence countries are the foundation members of all the other alliance groups. The use of the internet and VPNs in these countries are usually monitored, so it makes sense to know about Virtual Private Network services outside these countries.

Here are some of the best:

Cyberghost

cyberghost vpn mobile app interface

Cyberghost operates outside all of the countries of the 14 Eyes treaty. It operates out of Romania, has an iron-clad no-logs policy, and offers customers industry-standard AES-256 encryption.

In addition to all this, it has a user-friendly interface, 7 days free trial, and a 45-day money-back guarantee. It works on all devices, supports torrenting, and can unblock most blocked sites.

NordVPN

nord vpn windows app on laptop

NordVPN operates from Panama, which is out of the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes alliance. This means that NordVPN is not obligated to give any government your data.

The VPN service also boasts 2048-bit encryption and a no-logs policy. It is important to note here that NordVPN was audited by PWC AG in Switzerland to make sure that their no-logs policy and their other security measures are legit. They are committed to both third party and independent audits. You get a 30-day money-back guarantee when you sign up.

Express VPN

express vpn app

Express VPN is a very fast Virtual Private Network service that can bypass most geo-blocks you throw at it. The service is based in the British Islands which do not share data with any government.

Their security measures include AES 256-CBC and several leak protection protocols. They took their security to the next level by undergoing an independent third-party audit performed by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

This audit confirms the no-logs feature of the service and also verifies its TrustedServer function that makes it impossible to store users’ logs on their servers. What’s more? you can enjoy a 30-day money-back guarantee using Express VPN.

Vypr VPN

vypr vpn mobile app interface

Switzerland is a country that does not joke with its privacy laws, and it is not part of the 14 Eyes treaty. That is where Vypr has decided to call home. It is also one Virtual Private Network service that is open about keeping some user data for up to 30 days for billing and troubleshooting.

In addition to this, Vypr uses 256-bit encryption and NAT firewall to protect you from viruses. A unique feature of this VPN service is its proprietary Chameleon technology which is very good at befuddling government sponsorship. Vypr offers 30 days money-back guarantee.

How to Protect Your Privacy from Five Eyes Countries Surveillance

There are a few practical steps that you can take to protect yourself from the all-seeing five eyes agreement countries. Here are some of them:

  • You should be well-versed in the privacy and internet laws of your country. To begin with, is the use of Virtual Private Networks even legal in your country?
  • If you are concerned about your privacy, you should go for a VPN that is not registered in any of the Fourteen Eye countries. Otherwise, you stand the risk of your data getting to the government and the government sharing with other countries.
  • If you want to take data safety a step further, research on the privacy laws and practices of the country where the server you are connecting to is located, not only where your VPN service operates from.
  • No-log policies are important, it means they do not retain information about their user’s online activities. But then it might not mean much for countries that are part of the 14 Eye alliance, you should be mindful of that.
  • Finally, make sure you can trust your Virtual Private Network provider. Words and promises are sometimes not enough, do they have something solid to back their claims?

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