The 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes alliances originally started in the 50s as a way to share information during the cold war between English speaking countries. Of course, that now extends to online surveillance. These alliances were a secret until 2003 and became more well-known after Edward Snowden leaked a number of documents that he obtained while working for the NSA as a contractor. As you probably know, those documents exposed widespread government surveillance in a widespread network.
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Let’s take a look at the countries involved in these different alliances.
- 5 Eyes – The original alliance that included the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
- 9 Eyes – The 5 Eyes plus Denmark, France, Holland, and Norway.
- 14 Eyes – Nine Eyes plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain.
Why This is Important for VPN Users
The reason that is important is a matter of jurisdiction. In other words, if one country has access to your private data, you may assume that they can all gain access. There are a few factors you can take a look at.
- What is the company’s business address?
- Is VPN legal in your country?
- Is the server you are connecting to an actual location or a virtual one?
- If it is a virtual one, where is the server actually located?
Be cautious about companies that have their base of operation in one of the 14 eyes countries. Your data could end up in the hand of any one of those 14 countries. Also, depending on the physical location of the server, the government of that country may cooperate with authorities and could turn your information over.
Why No Logs Policies are Important
As you may know, many of the companies claim to have a no logs policy. That means they do not have activity log for users, nor do they keep track of where they have been. If there is an incident where the police need to get involved, you want to know that there is no identifiable information that will be given out. Sadly, that may not be enough if the company is based in one of the countries that are part of the 14 eyes treaties.
Now, we will talk about the home base of operations for our 3 providers.
ExpressVPN – British Virgin Islands. This country is not part of any information sharing alliance and residents enjoy free and unrestricted access to the internet.
NordVPN – Panama. They are not part of any intelligence sharing alliance and the constitution specifically protects all forms of expression.
VyprVPN – Switzerland. Since they are not part of the 14 eyes alliance, you won’t have to worry about your data being protected with them. The country enjoys a constitutional right to free speech.
And there you can see what differences the different alliances mean and the best way to help yourself. Please share it with your friends so they can protect themselves with a VPN along with you. Follow us @VPNFan for the latest deals and guides.