Five Eyes is basically an intelligence sharing alliance consisting upon five major countries i.e. United States (USA), United Kingdom (UK), Australia, New Zealand and Canada. All of these five countries are partners in an agreement called UKUSA Agreement.
A number of agreements were made among the five countries in the year 1946. With the passage of time, the alliance came to be known as UKUSA agreement. The basic purpose of those agreements was to setup a network of intelligence among the five countries particularly signals intelligence.
For the last 7 decades, the five eyes have been having surveillance all across the world. These are said to be monitoring other countries as well as communities all across the world. They have also built a strong infrastructure to utilize the power of online world for surveillance.
What’s So Important About 5-Eyes Agreement?
The agreements made among the group of 5 countries are highly confidential and in the last seventy years very small amount of info has come out. It was such a secretive agreement that the Australian Prime Minister did not know about it until 1973. By the year 1999, it was never officially acknowledged. However, just few less important documents came out which gave some very little info about it.
It is believed that each partner country has setup its own surveillance system to intercept, collect, decrypt and analyze the information in its own controlled area and then the information for mutual interest is shared by the other members of the group. Based on the shared intelligence, the necessary actions are taken whenever and wherever needed.
All major intelligence and secret agencies work together at joint centers where the operations are carried out jointly. The group of five eyes is not just an agreement on paper but it is a reality and to make it more effective, they have shared different tasks. In fact, all the shared tasks are carried out leaving all the differences between.
Level of Help and Support Among 5-Eyes Partners
Five Eyes have developed various programs which share and collect technical information.
According to an unofficial statement from one of the members of the intelligence group of England:
“As per the agreement we can also access NSA with the help of a GCHQ Pass. Besides, we can easily approach senior member of GCHQ wherever and whenever we need. Additionally, NSA may also seek for advice or opinion from GCHQ”
“Though, sometimes, there are complicated situations, there has always been good coordination among partners. In fact, it is not wrong to say that GCHQ and NSA have very close ties and they have deep trust”
Edward Joseph Snowden, a former employee of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was responsible for leaking some of the extremely classified documents from the database of National Security Agency in the year 2013. He is also blamed to reveal some of the documents belonging to Five Eyes and those documents also stated that the member countries of Five Eyes have very strong coordination among them.
Almost all the important documents contain the references something like “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, FVEY” or “TOP SECRET//COMINT//REL TO USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL”. The references classify that the documents belong to the top five secret agencies and may be shared with all the five member counties i.e. UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
The Term REL TO normally describe that the information contains in a particular document is classified and recognized by the member countries and can be released and distributed among them through proper channel.
“A former UK spy once said that cooperation among the five countries especially UK and USA is very strong and when they work together, they work as a team rather than representative of two different countries. He also said that it seemed like just an organizational mess because you can’t differentiate who is working for whom.”
No Spying Deal is nothing more than just a rumor because they all collecting intelligence information from among the residents. However, the collaboration has also agreed on one term that no resident would be intercepted directly without the knowledge and involvement of the local agency.
Are There Any Other Similar Alliances in the World?
Well, yes. There are various similar alliances which were created due to different situations. When the first coalition was launched, there were just the two countries i.e. USA and UK. However, the end results of that cooperation were so amazing that the other countries could not stop themselves being part of it. The alliance got bigger with the passage of time and Five Eyes Alliance gave birth to Nine, Fourteen and then Forty One Intelligence coalition.
9 Eyes Coalition
The next alliance came after the addition of four more countries to the existing alliance of five eyes. The new partners were:
Nine Eyes exists and it is also mentioned in Wikipedia but very little information is available about it. Besides there are various other web references which show that the alliance has come into existence.
14 Eyes Coalition
After the nine eyes, another alliance came into existence known as 14 Eyes and it includes 14 major countries of the world. All of the partnering countries have already got surveillance agreement in its original form. The fourteen eyes alliance was officially named as SIGNT Europe. The partners are as follow:
- New Zealand
Effectiveness of all such intelligence alliances was turned out to be very impressive and thus various other intelligence sharing groups came into existence time to time and few of the mentionable ones are as follow:
Tier B: It has been the major ground for computer and network exploitation by Five Eyes and they have been well focused as far as the cooperation is concerned. Partners include Austria, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Japan, Norway, Turkey, Iceland, South Korea, Luxembourg, Portugal, Greece, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherland, Spain, Italy, Hungry and Poland.
Forty One Eyes: The group includes almost all members of the fourteen eyes. Besides, some other countries also became member to create a new coalition in war-torn Afghanistan.
NATO Special Unit: This is the most important alliance in the sense that the heads of top secret services from NATO Partners are employed as the partner of this unit.
Club De Berne: The group has total 17 members which also include various European States; however, it does not include US as member.
Counter Terrorist Group: This group has all the members of Berne De Club along with USA.
How a Common Man is Affected by Intelligence Alliances?
If you are one of those who have concerns about their internet security, it is important to know the role of intelligence in online activities. It should be understood by everyone without any doubt that the basic purpose of all such intelligence alliances is to protect common citizens rather than interfering in their personal lives.
Edward Snowden revealed various interesting as well as annoying facts about the intelligence agencies. One such fact was the use of PRISM Program which was developed by NSA. The main function of this program was to collect personal and professional information of the common people through major networks like Facebook, Microsoft and even Google.
The Program PRISM has made it very simple to collect common users’ data for NSA Agents. Additionally, it can be shared with other partners as well and the most disturbing thing is that the other partner countries can also use this program and track anyone in the world. Even if you have nothing to hide, you would never like agencies to record your social media chats and calls.
Secret services are often blamed by the common people for misusing their strategies and resources against common internet users. For instance, it is said that they could hack networks to steal users’ data or they could also force networks to allow them surveillance of their users. These all are considered unethical means to monitor someone’s activities without their knowledge.
There is no doubt that the main objectives of all intelligence alliances i.e. Five-Eyes, Nine-Eyes or Tier B would be to monitor and catch bad guys who are in disguise of common citizens. However, in the war against bad people, sometimes, common people may also be affected.
Intelligence alliances are the need of time because of the cyber crimes, local criminals, extremist, supremacist and terrorists. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand why all such coalitions came into existence. Despite the fact that the intelligence coalitions have been very effective in fighting against terrorists all across the world, the privacy of a common citizen must never be exposed.