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November 12, 2020

The Eyes Alliances and Your Privacy – Everything You Should Know

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As an internet user, you’re probably well aware that many countries use digital surveillance to monitor their citizens. In some cases, the surveillance is somewhat harmless; the government monitors for threats but otherwise you’re free to move about the internet. In other countries, the surveillance is used to monitor and censor citizen behaviour. What you might not know, however, is that the data collected about your online activity might not stay within your government’s hands. Several international intelligence-sharing agreements exist, wherein the members of these agreements share your data with one another. Naturally, these agreements, known as the Eyes Alliances, can pose a risk to your privacy as an ordinary citizen. Fortunately, by understanding the nature of these agreements, you can take further steps to protect your data and online activity.

  • The Five Eyes Alliance
  • The Nine and Fourteen Eyes Alliance
  • The impact on VPN users
  • The importance of no-logs policies

The Five Eyes Alliance 

This alliance came out of an intelligence pact called the UKUSA Agreement, which was forged during the Cold War. It began as an intelligence-sharing agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom to decrypt Soviet Russian communication and information.

Canada, Australia, and New Zealand joined the alliance in the late 1950s, bringing the member countries to five. The surveillance conducted and shared has changed over the years and now includes online activity surveillance. The Five Eyes Alliance remained a closely guarded secret for many years but it hit mainstream news when Edward Snowden leaked several documents in 2013 that revealed these countries have been spying on and sharing data about their citizens for decades.

The Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes Alliances

There are two other Eyes Alliances to be aware of, known as the Nine Eyes and the Fourteen Eyes Alliances. The Nine Eyes Alliance includes the countries in Five Eyes, as well as Denmark, Norway, France, and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, Fourteen Eyes includes Nine Eyes members plus Italy, Spain, Sweden, Germany, and Belgium. Although the latter alliances aren’t as tight-knit as the original Five, they willingly share intelligence. 

Some third-party contributors exchange information with the Fourteen Eyes Alliance. These countries include Japan, South Korea, Israel, and Singapore. Given the broad network of countries that participate in intelligence-sharing, it’s easy to get worried about your privacy. 

The Impact on VPN Users

The Eyes Alliances have vast implications for online citizens and VPN users on the hunt for secure internet access. Given the number of countries that share information, it’s safe to assume that if any of them access your online activity or data, then all fourteen can access it. One way of protecting yourself is by using a VPN. However, there are a few things to know first.

The first step towards protecting yourself from the Eyes Alliances is to understand the online laws of your country. Some nations don’t allow the use of VPNs, so it’s essential to consider this. However, if you can use a VPN, you should then consider the country where your VPN provider is officially registered as a business. If your VPN runs out of one the Eyes countries, it’s subject to their laws and surveillance. If requested, it may be forced to hand over any data it has about you, and you won’t even know it. To avoid this, make sure to use a VPN provider registered in a country outside of the Eyes Alliances. 

The Importance of No-Logs Policies

If you’re worried about your online privacy, as is only prudent, opt for a VPN service with a strict no-logs policy. This policy ensures that the service does not keep any information that identifies its users or their online activity. Even police investigations cannot compel providers to hand over identifying or compromising information, simply because there’s no data to give. This is especially important if your chosen VPN service is based in an Eyes country, however, it’s a great trait to have in a VPN from anywhere around the world.

Conclusion

Online data is becoming more and more of a valuable currency with each leap in technology. In fact, making all your online activity entirely anonymous is nearly impossible in this day and age. The best way to protect yourself is by understanding international surveillance laws and using VPNs that provide the online protection you deserve.

HotBot VPN is a Seychelles-based, no-log VPN service with servers around the world. We’re outside of the Eyes Alliances and do not take part in Big Surveillance, ensuring that your data is safe from monitoring and tracking. Check out our VPN plans or download our app today from the Play Store, App Store, or for your Windows devices! 

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