The Snowden scandal back in 2013 reignited the public’s interest in cyber security. It encouraged the public to take their online security seriously. Of course, the first thing people turn to is a VPN and scroll through their features to make sure their servers are based out of the 5/9/14 alliance.
This alliance started during WWII and the UKUSA Agreement. This agreement stated that there was an alliance formed between the United Kingdom and the United States, and they gathered and shared intelligence between them.
The alliance expanded to include Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. These countries came up with different methods to mass surveillance and collect information with the help of internet providers. This made them one of the most powerful agencies in the world.
The world was eager to join n four other countries entering the playing field; the name was changed to Nine Eyes, which included Denmark, France, Netherlands, and Norway. The same rules applied to these countries, their cooperation circle expanded.
The last alliance formed is the 14 eyes. This group is also named SIGN IT Senior Europe (SSEUR), and it includes five European countries Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and Belgium.
Collecting data from the internet is not their only project; they also have an ECHELON surveillance system. This is a spy station network that is expanded data collection on a massive scale. This is a global network; it has the ability to eavesdrop on popular devices, i.e., telephones, faxes, and computers. All the information they gather is stored on their computer, and it is separate for each individual, meaning it can keep track of millions of records. Governments have denied the existence of these places. Still, the conflicting official announcement and the whistleblowers that confirmed its existence make it highly likely that it is real.
A lot of VPN providers claim that their servers located in the alliance are not a big deal, especially those based in the US and the UK. In reality, there are crucial evidence of the consequences when trusting a service that operates in one of the 14 countries listed.
For example, we have the company Riseup, an American-based VPN and email service located in Seattle. A few years ago, they were forced by government agents to collect user data. They had millions of subscribers and people using their emails, especially activists.
This is not the only incident, and it does not only happen in the states. HideMyAss is a UK VPN service that had to cave into a court order, making them collect user data and hand it to the authorities to conduct a criminal investigation.
These are just a few of the instances that occurred, and one of the few cases that have been publicly announced, there are defiantly other examples we won’t know about.
If you think this is a problem, then check out what’s coming next. When the authorities force a company to collect and provide data, it usually comes with a gag order. This means the government can authorize a business to turn into data collector tools for governmental agencies without warning or notifying their users. In the case of the United States, a warrant canary won’t work and can be illegal.
So when going for a VPN, stay away from services that are provided by one of the alliances’ countries, especially the Five Eyes countries, as some of the 9 and 14 Eyes countries do have strong Privacy laws.