1. Why do I need to stay away from VPNs in 14 eyes countries?

Agencies simply can’t be trusted not to share your data, and little is known about exactly what they do with the information collected. It’s tempting to think that intelligence collected is solely used to catch “bad guys,” but that’s unlikely to be the case.

As for providers, Riseup, IPVanish, and HideMyAss have all been forced to hand over user data in the past, with the first two based in the US, and HMA found in the UK.

2. Why does SIGINT share intelligence between services?

The various alliances allow agencies to cover a large landmass, and they’re able to communicate and identify threats rapidly. Of course, there’s no telling the real scope of their efforts, while it’s worrying from a privacy point of view.

3. How does a VPN help to protect data?

A VPN masks your IP address, making it harder to track your online movements. Instead, all data to and from your device will be routed through an encrypted tunnel. 

This data should be disposed of by the VPN service, which is why it makes sense to pay attention to their logging policy before signing up. If they have no logs, they’ll have nothing to hand over, even if court-ordered to do so. Regardless, it’s still better to avoid 14 Eyes countries if possible.

4. Are there any new potential FVEY countries?

Japan has been receptive to the idea of joining the original FVEY alliance, possibly due to geopolitical issues in the region. 

Former Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono gave an interview in August 2020 where he noted the country was eager to expand cooperation with the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing countries, expanding on currently existing frameworks. 

Israel, Singapore, and South Korea have also been touted as potential additions to the network.

5. What’s the problem with FVEY?

It’s not just a matter of privacy; it also raises questions relating to oversight and a lack of rules and regulations in terms of the data agencies collect. Privacy International explains:

“The Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangements are shrouded in secrecy, allowing for arbitrary or unlawful intrusions on the right to privacy which circumvent domestic legal restrictions on state surveillance. There is no domestic legislation governing intelligence-sharing, meaning that many of these arrangements lack legal basis and therefore democratic legitimacy.”