The ‘Five Eyes’ Surveillance is a network that shares signal intelligence between 5 prominent countries. This means that these countries have the authority to intercept the signals (also electronic) used for indirect or direct communication between any number of people within the jurisdiction of those 5 countries.
Five Eyes surveillance
The foundation of this organisation dates back to the 1940s, where the US and UK agreed to share the signal intelligence amongst themselves during the Second World War. Not long after, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand also joined this treaty, that constituted the ‘Five Eyes’ Surveillance organisation.
Nine and 14 Eyes surveillance
Soon after the Five Eyes surveillance was formed, other countries too joined the organisation. The Nine Eyes consisted of the same members as of the Five Eyes along with Denmark, France, Netherlands and Norway.
In 2013, it was found out that there was another agreement amongst 14 other nations known as SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSUR) that consisted members of the 9 Eyes with the addition of five other countries — Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
So, why does it affect VPN services?
VPNs are essentially helpful to create an encrypted network connection to securely access other networks over the internet using which you can get remote access to content on websites restricted in your geographical area.
To achieve this, the VPN masks your actual geographical location to another depending on where the VPN provider’s server may be located. It is important to note that that the VPN provider’s location and server location must comply by the VPN jurisdiction laws laid down in that location.
In 2013, Edward Snowden, former CIA employee, leaked crucial and classified information from the NSA (National Security Agency). He made it known to the world that NSA was misusing the 14 Eyes surveillance for violating privacy laws of the common citizens of the country.
The people are still powerless, but now they’re aware.
So, suppose there is a VPN provider in Australia, which is a part of the Five Eyes, any data that is stored or passed through the VPN is subject to surveillance protocols laid down by the organisation.
Many VPNs collect logs of user activity and if these VPNs happen to come under the jurisdiction of the 14 Eyes, the governments are legally allowed to retrieve that data from them. Even if this data is procured by a single member on the 14 Eyes, all of the other members can get access to it.
It is thus wise, you select a VPN that doesn’t collect logs and does not come under the 14 Eyes jurisdiction. This means that select a VPN service that isn’t based in one of the aforementioned countries.