What are the 5, 9 and 14 eyes countries

14 Eyes Guide

If you have read through news articles and VPN reviews on this site, you have probably come across the term ‘5 Eyes Alliance’ at some point.

You may also have seen us reference a ‘9 Eyes Alliance’ and a ‘14 Eyes Alliance’ at some point too.

These weren’t typos.

These three alliances, while related are separate entities and for people who care about their online privacy, all are equally important.

But while we use the term quite regularly, we are aware that some readers may not be clear about what it means and why it is important to them.

But if you live in a country involved in one of these alliances or if you use a VPN that is based there, it does matter to you and you should understand what they are.

That’s why we have put together this guide.

In the following sections, we will tell you everything you need to know about the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances, so you are able to take whatever steps you see fit to protect your online privacy.

What are the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance?

What is 5 eyes

Every country around the world has its own signals intelligence agency (often referred to as SIGINT).

In the UK, it is called GCHQ, in the USA it is known as the National Security Agency (NSA) and in Germany, it is the BND (which stands for Bundesnachrichtendienst or Federal Intelligence Service).

These agencies are responsible for gathering communications intelligence.

In other words, it is their job to tap phones, monitor internet activity, and ensure that their respective countries have access to the information they need to keep their citizens safe.

In authoritarian countries like Communist China, there is no restriction on what agencies like these can do. But in western countries, there are usually some limitations written into domestic law.

Typically, this includes laws which prohibit surveillance of their own citizens without a warrant.

However, there is often no such restriction on the blanket surveillance of citizens from other countries, regardless of whether there is a warrant or a legal justification for doing so.

One way that agencies can get around the restrictions on domestic surveillance is by working together with partner agencies from other countries.

Quote

Edward Snowden said the 5 eyes was a “supra-national intelligence organization that doesn’t answer to the laws of its own countries.” (Source)

This is what the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances are all about; an agreement between the SIGINT agencies of allied countries on the sharing of intelligence between them.

Through its membership of these three alliances, the UK’s SIGINT agency, GCHQ, can access communications data harvested by all of its allied countries around the world and use this to inform its own work, regardless of whether it is allowed to collect that data itself or not.

The 3 alliances in detail

5 eyes details

At this point, you are probably wondering why on earth there are three different alliances rather than just one single one.

The answer is that geopolitical relationships between countries are hugely complicated and all nations are wary about sharing sensitive intelligence with others.

The three different alliances reflect these differing relationships but are also rooted in the history of how each of the three alliances came about.

In this section, we will give you a potted history and background of each alliance to provide you with a clearer idea of the differences between them.

The 5 Eyes Alliance

5 eyes countries

Membership:

  • United Kingdom
  • United States of America
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

The 5 Eyes Alliance was the first such intelligence alliance to be established and can trace its history back to the Cold War.

In the early years of the Cold War between the democratic West and the Communist Soviet Union, the UK and the USA signed an intelligence-sharing agreement known (appropriately) as the UKUSA Agreement.

This was simply intended to allow the two countries to pool resource and information when attempting to decrypt Soviet intelligence and communications.

By the end of the 1950s, when the Cold War was in full swing, the English-speaking nations of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand had also joined this agreement.

These five nations are the original Five Eyes Alliance and they have maintained this relationship into the present day despite the Cold War having long since been won.

Obviously, the original Five Eyes agreement was in effect long before the creation of the internet and online communication. But the Five Eyes agreement has been expanded to cover new technological and communication advances.

The 5 Eyes Alliance is a commonly used term these days but it wasn’t always so. We have Edward Snowden to thank for bringing this intelligence sharing arrangement into the public domain.

Before his whistleblowing back in 2013, the very existence of the 5 Eyes Alliance was not in the public domain, must less the extent of the cooperation between them.

Snowden’s leaks shed light on the arrangement and the extent to which our private information is shared between agencies working for free and democratic nations around the world.

The 9 Eyes Alliance

9 eyes countries

Membership:

  • The 5 Eyes Alliance countries +
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • France
  • The Netherlands

The 9 Eyes Alliance is essentially an extension of the 5 Eyes Alliance.

It too can trace its origins back to the Cold War where a number of Nordic and Western European countries joined forces with the original 5 Eyes countries to counter the threat posed by Soviet Russia.

These countries can be viewed as third-part participants.

Documents released by Edward Snowden suggested that while the original 5 countries in the agreement were exempt from intelligence targeting, those countries in the 9 Eyes Alliance have no such exemptions.

One internal NSA document made public by Snowden said, “We (the NSA) can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners.”

There is no formal international treaty that binds the 9 Eyes Alliance countries, they are simply tied together by arrangements between their respective SIGINT agencies.

The 14 Eyes Alliance

14 eyes countries

Membership:

  • The 9 Eyes Alliance countries +
  • Germany
  • Belgium
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Italy

The official name for the 14 Eyes Alliance is actually SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR). Its primary purpose is to share military signals intelligence among its membership.

The membership of the 14 Eyes Alliance consists of the full quota of 9 Eyes Alliance members plus five other European states.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in this group is Germany, which, as a major European economy, is supposedly fairly miffed that they have not been invited to join the 9 Eyes or even 5 Eyes Alliances.

As with the 9 Eyes Alliance, there is no formal treaty that binds the 14 Eyes Alliance but rather an informal arrangement between the respective SIGINT agencies of these countries.

Other engaged nations and Alliances

The NSA is the driving force behind the 5 Eyes Alliance and its various expansions and they are believed to also have similar arrangements in place with other countries around the world.

The countries with this type of relationship and the exact nature of the agreements are not known but it is believed to include:

  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • South Korea

There is also a SIGINT Seniors of the Pacific group of nations that have an intelligence-sharing agreement in place too. This group of nations consists of:

  • The 5 Eyes Alliance members +
  • France
  • India
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Thailand

In addition to these arrangements, there are a number of different issue-specific intelligence agreements in place between various nations around the world too. These have been revealed by Privacy International and include:

  • Club of Berne – A group of 17 mainly European nations, not including the USA.
  • Maximator – A specific intelligence alliance between Denmark, Germany, France, the Netherlands and Sweden.
  • NATO Special Committee – Made up of the Security Service heads of the 18 member states of NATO.
  • A Five Eyes association focused on cooperation over computer network exploitation which includes the 5 Eyes member countries + Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

If all of these intelligence-sharing alliances weren’t unnerving enough, there is also one between a number of the world’s worst authoritarian regimes.

Known as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, it consists of Communist China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Country-by-Country

Country by country

As you can see, when it comes to intelligence-sharing, there are a lot of countries giving information to a lot of other countries.

The focus of this article is the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries since these are the relationships that affect the majority of VPN users and also impact on the highest number of VPN providers too.

That’s why in this section, we are going to look through the list of member countries individually and highlight which alliances they are part of, what their domestic laws are on surveillance and VPN usage, and how it affects domestic VPNs and VPN users in that country.

This list has been posted in alphabetical order for ease of reference:

Australia

Alliance Membership: Member of 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: None of our main recommended VPNs are based in Australia, but some popular VPN providers still are including Celo VPN and VPNSecure.Me

The first thing to say is that using a VPN remains 100% legal in Australia and there are no major restrictions on internet use in the country.

However, recent legislation does make keeping your online privacy in Australia much more difficult. Recent legislation has required all ISPs in Australia to retain all user data for a period of at least two years.

In addition, the same laws require Australian intelligence agencies to be granted access to encrypted communications and there are a number of cases of this power being exercised.

Quote

Sam Bocetta of the Foundation for Economic Education said “Australia is jeopardizing digital security and harming the individual rights and freedoms of its citizens or anyone else who has chosen to do business in the country.” (Source)

As a result, we can say with some degree of certainty that if any of your data passes through Australia, local laws and its participation in the 5 Eyes Alliance means the privacy of this data cannot be guaranteed.

Belgium

Alliance Membership: Member of 14 Eyes Alliance.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

Belgium is a free and democratic nation with no restrictions on internet access. VPN use is also legal in the country.

At the time of writing, there are no specific data retention laws but some ISPs do retain data anyway and this information can be subject to warrants from intelligence agencies.

As a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance, intelligence from Belgium can be shared with other countries.

Canada

Alliance Membership: Member of 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: TunnelBear, also other VPNs including Betternet, BTGuard VPN, SurfEasy, and WindScribe.

Canada has plenty of laws in place to protect freedom of speech and the government in Canada is also a strong proponent of net neutrality.

VPN use in Canada is completely legal and internet access is unconstrained across the country.

But, as a member of 5 Eyes Alliance, any internet data which does pass through Canada is liable to be accessible by authorities from other member states intelligence agencies as well. Canadian law is set up to facilitate this sharing.

Denmark

Alliance Membership: Member of 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

Denmark is a member of the European Union and as such is subject to that blocks GDPR laws.

Danish people can enjoy free internet access and VPN use is permitted here but the Government does have a habit of censoring content it is uncomfortable with and has the power to limit internet access if it so wishes.

As a member of both the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliance as well as the Maximator alliance, data that passes through Denmark is liable to be shared with other intelligence agencies around the world.

France

Alliance Membership: Member of 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

France has traditionally been a country that backs an open internet and supports freedom of speech. But recent terrorist incidents in the country, as well as concerns over fake news, have seen suggestions of laws to change this.

There is already more online surveillance and data gathering now than has previously been the case.

France has ruled out becoming a member of an expanded 5 Eyes Alliance but it is a member of both the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances and cooperates closely with other EU and western states on intelligence sharing which means your data passing through France is unlikely to be safe.

Germany

Alliance Membership: Member of 14 Eyes Alliance.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: Zenmate, Avira Phantom.

While Germany has a strong reputation for protecting freedom of speech and online access rights, it has passed several different pieces of legislation in recent times which has expanded its domestic and international online surveillance capabilities.

German citizens can be surveilled without any warrant or particular suspicion being required and online censorship has also been expanded to combat a rise in hate speech and far-right politics in the country.

Germany has in the past expressed a wish to be a part of an expanded 5 Eyes and 9 Eyes Alliance and it is also a keen participant in the likes of the Maximator and Club of Berne Alliances too.

Israel

Alliance Membership: Rumoured third-party contributor to the Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: Hola VPN.

Israel offers the fewest online restrictions of any Middle East country and it boasts open internet access and allows VPN use too.

However, the close relationships between the Israeli authorities and Western governments, particularly the USA, is well-known and it is widely believed that the Israeli authorities are unofficial contributors to the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances.

Italy

Alliance Membership: Member of 14 Eyes Alliance.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: AirVPN.

Italy is another EU state and therefore offers general protections for online freedom. VPNs are permitted and while there is some mild censorship, access is generally only restrained by infrastructure limitations.

There is legislation being drafted to increase online surveillance capabilities though.

But data restrictions is another matter. ISPs have to retain user data for at least six years in Italy and as a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance, it is liable to share this data with all the other member states.

Japan

Alliance Membership: Rumoured third-party contributor to the Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: VPN Gate.

Japan has strong laws to protect online freedoms and all citizens have access to unrestricted internet and can use VPNs as they see fit.

The Japanese authorities have garnered some controversy in their indiscriminate surveillance of Muslims in the country. However, they have access to strong surveillance equipment which means that this is likely to stretch much further.

The close intelligence links between Japan and the USA are the main reason why Japan is thought to be a third-party collaborator with the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances.

The Netherlands

Alliance Membership: Member of the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: Goose VPN.

The Netherlands has one of the freest internets anywhere on earth. VPN use is legal and censorship is minimal with the Pirate Bay being the principle and high-profile exception to this.

Surveillance is officially minimal too but as a member of both the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes intelligence alliances, the collection and sharing of user data for Dutch people and data which passes through the country is believed to happen.

New Zealand

Alliance Membership: Member of the 5 Eyes 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

New Zealand is a liberal country that has few restrictions on internet access and which readily permits its citizens to use VPNs.

But it is also a member of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances which means it readily shares data and information with other members.

Norway

Alliance Membership: Member of the 9 and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

Norway is another country with an open and free internet environment. VPNs are legal and there is little government censorship or restrictions.

The Norwegian government are subjected to close scrutiny domestically but as a member of the 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances, data that is surveilled in Norway will be shared with other member states.

Singapore

Alliance Membership: Rumoured third-party contributor to the Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: Ivacy.

Singapore has widespread internet access and does permit VPN usage across the country. But the Singaporean authorities have widespread powers to censor content and surveil their citizens as they see fit.

As the Singaporean authorities have close relationships with the US government and other western nations, they are widely believed to be a third-party contributor to the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances.

South Korea

Alliance Membership: Rumoured third-party contributor to the Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

South Korean internet is generally perceived as being free, although there are some limitations based on certain political content and in defamation cases.

There is a constitutional right to privacy in South Korea but ISPs have been encouraged to ensure they are keeping user’s real names logged with their data which has raised privacy concerns in recent times.

South Korea is also widely believed to cooperate closely with the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances and routinely shares intelligence with other member states.

Spain

Alliance Membership: Member of 14 Eyes Alliance.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: N/A

Spain has strong domestic laws in place that are designed to freedom of speech, online privacy, and individual data too.

However, this has been tested when it comes to issues such as Basque and Catalan independence which have been hugely controversial in Spain for decades.

Spain still has a generally free and open internet and VPN use is permitted. But as a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance, Spain will share data that passes through its country with other member states.

Sweden

Alliance Membership: Member of 14 Eyes Alliance.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: PrivateVPN, AzireVPN, FrootVPN, and Mullvad.

In keeping with the other Scandinavian countries, Sweden has robust laws that protect online privacy and free speech and prohibit censorship.

The monitoring of online traffic is permitted in Sweden but only when a court order has been given and in cases of extreme national security risk.

But for all this, Sweden remains a member of the 14 Eyes Alliance which means that data on its citizen’s communication is likely to be shared with other member countries.

United Kingdom

Alliance Membership: Member of the 5 Eyes 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: Hide My Ass and SaferVPN.

The UK guarantees the rights of its citizens to freedom of speech and freedom of expression and alongside an open internet with limited censorship, VPN use if fully legal.

However, the recent Investigatory Powers Act has undone much of the UK’s good standing as a country where the privacy of its people is protected.

This law requires that some internet data is stored for a minimum of 12 months and hands sweeping surveillance powers to a wide range of government agencies.

As a founder member of the 5 Eyes Alliance, this data is likely to be widely shared with other participating countries from around the world.

United States of America

Alliance Membership: Member of the 5 Eyes 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances.
Are VPNs legal?: Yes.
Popular VPNs based here: IPVanish, Private Internet Access, StrongVPN, Ace VPN, Anonymizer VPN, Encrypt Me, Hide All IP, Hide My IP, HotSpot Shield, HoxxVPN, LiquidVPN, Norton WiFi Privacy, Private Tunnel, ProxPN, Ra4w VPN, SecureVPN, SlickVPN, Speedify, SwitchVPN, TorGuard, Touch VPN and VPN Unlimited.

While the USA sells itself as being the home of freedom and its constitution includes clauses to protect freedom of speech and freedom of expression among other things, the Snowden revelations revealed the vast extent of the US governments surveillance of its own citizens.

The US routinely monitors and collects internet data from all of its citizens and even after this fact was made public, the practice has continued with minimal changes.

Quote

Edward Snowden said “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power.” (Source)

There have also been various laws passed that undermine online privacy and net neutrality in recent years too.

The US Government is the driving force behind the 5 Eyes Alliance and it is inconceivable that not only does the NSA hoover up data from all of its own citizens, but that it collects data from the majority of the world’s population too.

Why this matters to VPN users

Why 5 eyes matters

You might still be wondering why as an internet user and a VPN user you need to be concerned about the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances?

Most people assume that intelligence agencies such as the NSA and GCHQ are only interested in people who they suspect pose a threat to their national security.

But this isn’t the case at all.

What these agencies want is to ensure that no national security threat or potential terrorist can slip through the net. And they have concluded that the best way to ensure this is to collect up everyone’s data, regardless of whether they are a suspect or not.

This has major implications for the online privacy and wider rights of every single person living in a 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes country. And if you live elsewhere but use a VPN that is located in one of these countries, it affects you too.

Jurisdiction – Where is your VPN based

When you choose a VPN, you are trusting the provider of that service to keep your data safe and private. Most will promise to do so, but the extent to which they are able to deliver on this promise will depend on where in the world they are based.

Every business has to have a registered headquarters somewhere and also has to be subjected to local laws in at least one country or state too. This is known as the jurisdiction under which a VPN falls.

If your VPN is headquartered in a country that is part of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes Alliances, this means that it falls under the local laws of one of those countries too.

As we have seen in the above section, these laws differ between countries but they do all have one thing in common. Their members will share the communications data they collect with other member states.

This is a major privacy issue for VPN users in these countries. It means that even if a VPN has a no user logs guarantee, there is no cast-iron guarantee that local laws aren’t going to compel it to hand some data over to the authorities.

It also means that whatever data is being hoovered up by the domestic intelligence agency is also being shared with other intelligence agencies around the world too.

Server Locations

Another factor that you should consider as a VPN user is where your servers are based too.

A lot of VPN providers hire their servers from other companies which might fall under an Eyes Alliance jurisdiction and be subject to different laws. This could have implications for your online privacy.

If your data is passing through a server in a country that is part of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes Alliance, this is likely to mean that it is subject to local laws at some point during its journey from your device to its intended location.

In some countries, this could also mean that this data is routinely being hoovered up by local intelligence agencies too.

Surely my data is encrypted when I use a VPN? you may say. But this is only true while it is travelling between your device and the VPN server.

After this, it is not encrypted and if it contains any personal information, this will be visible to any intelligence agency that might be collecting it. That information can then be shared all around the world if the agency in question is part of one of these alliances.

No Logs Policies

A lot of VPN users take confidence in the no user logs guarantee that their VPN provider offers. But this is only as strong as the local laws in the country they are based allow it to be.

Take Australia, for example. They now have laws in place that permit government agencies to demand access to encrypted communications.

Any Australian VPN that fails to comply with this will be breaking the law and the Australian Government will then share this far and wide.

As a result, we would strongly advise against using Australian-based VPNs right now. Not all of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries go as far as this but some do have domestic laws that could make VPN no user logs promises challenging.

Best VPNs to use in a Five-Eyes Country

Best VPN for 5 eyes

If privacy is your priority and you want to avoid the surveillance that comes with either living in a 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes country, your best bet is to choose a VPN that is not based in any of the countries we have listed in this guide.

A lot of the top VPNs are deliberately headquartered in offshore locations to take advantage of local laws which allow them to offer their customers complete privacy.

Our advice for VPN users in one of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes countries would be to choose a VPN based in one of these countries if you possibly can.

If you are based in another country around the world and are worried about your data passing through one of these countries and being hoovered up anyway, the same advice applies.

To help you choose a VPN that is located offshore location where there are no potential risks to your data, we have compiled our recommended top 5 VPNs that are not based in a 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes country.

Top 5 VPNs not based in a 5/9/14 Eyes country:

1. ExpressVPN

✔️ Pros

  • Under British Virgin Islands jurisdiction
  • Independently verified no user logs guarantee
  • Robust encryption
❌ Cons

  • A bit pricier than some of its competitors

ExpressVPN has long been our Editor’s pick of the best VPNs and for users in one of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes countries, it ticks all the boxes.

ExpressVPN’s headquarters in the British Virgin Islands, an offshore location where local laws allow it to offer perfect privacy protection to all users.

This means that it’s no user logs guarantee is set in stone and this has been verified by no less credible an organisation than big 6 accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCooper.

It also comes with unbreakable 256-bit AES encryption, a wide range of security features and leak protections, and excellent user-friendly apps for all the most popular devices.

There is a wide range of servers available for all users both inside and outside the Eyes Alliance countries and connection speeds are fast and consistent, making ExpressVPN ideal for all your online needs.

ExpressVPN is a little more expensive than some of its competitors because they’ve concentrated on offering the best service. However, there is a 30-day money-back guarantee and it still offers exceptional value for money.

You can find out more by reading our full ExpressVPN review.

2. NordVPN

✔️ Pros

  • Based in Panama
  • Independently verified no user logs guarantee
  • Masses of security features
❌ Cons

  • Recent security blip

NordVPN is based in Panama, another offshore jurisdiction which allows it to offer maximum privacy protection including a cast-iron no user logs promise to all its users. It has also turned to PriceWaterhouseCooper to verify these claims.

In addition to its location, NordVPN also offers 256-bit AES encryption as standard along with a huge range of bonus security features such as double-hop servers and Tor over VPN for extra security.

There has never been a data breach or leak from NordVPN as far as we are aware. There was a recent issue with one server based in Finland but NordVPN dealt with the problem comprehensively and transparently and promised to make sure such an issue could never be repeated.

NordVPN users also benefit from superfast speeds, a great range of apps, a vast server network, and some of the lowest prices around for a premium VPN in addition to a 30-day money-back guarantee.

They are one of the most cost-effective VPN on the market right now.

You can find out more by reading our full NordVPN review.

3. CyberGhost VPN

✔️ Pros

  • Headquartered in Romania
  • Robust security
  • User-friendly apps
❌ Cons

  • Is based in the EU

CyberGhost VPN is based in Romania, which has pluses and minuses.

It is outside the Eyes Alliance countries, which is great and Romania does boast some quite strong privacy laws. But it is still inside the European Union which means that Romania does have close ties to a large number of 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes nations.

But they still have a no user logs promise that is robust and appears to stand up to scrutiny. They have also invested in their infrastructure in recent years too meaning they have strong encryption, good speeds, and some nice extra security features too.

The CyberGhost VPN apps are exceptional. They are extremely user-friendly, especially for novice VPN users, and available on most devices too.

CyberGhost VPN is competitively priced and comes with a huge 45-day money-back guarantee. Another top-quality, privacy-friendly VPN.

You can find out more by reading our extensive CyberGhost VPN review.

4. Surfshark

✔️ Pros

  • Based in the British Virgin Islands
  • Strong Encryption
  • Lots of features
❌ Cons

  • Logs more information than it needs to

Surfshark is a new kid on the block but the decision to base itself in the British Virgin Islands means it is outside the Eyes Alliance countries and is able to offer some of the best user-privacy protections, including a no user logs guarantee.

Surfshark has a lot going for it, especially for a young VPN. It has a wide range of impressive apps that are all packed with features yet still provide a user-friendly experience.

The big downside is its logging policy which still leaves a bit to be desired. Quite simply it is all too vague and they appear to log far more information than they need to.

It is a shame as it detracts from an otherwise excellent VPN that comes with other little perks like unlimited simultaneous connections, low prices, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

You can find out more by reading our in-depth Surfshark review.

5. VPN.ac

✔️ Pros

  • Based in Romania
  • Extremely strong encryption
  • Super-fast speeds
❌ Cons

  • Some minor connection logs

VPN.ac is another VPN provider that is based in Romania, a country that is outside the Eyes Alliance nations but is a part of the EU which means it retains close links with many member states.

Nevertheless, it allows VPNs based there to offer strong privacy protections and VPN.ac largely delivers, despite keeping a few more connection logs than is ideal.

It does deliver on encryption though with some of the strongest around and it couples these with some of the fastest speeds we have seen from a VPN too which is a rare combination.

The server network is modest but still has good reach and with reasonable prices and 6 simultaneous connections for every user, VPN.ac is another good option for users in 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes member countries.

You can find out more by reading our VPN.ac review.

Why you should use a VPN if you live in a 5/9/14 Eyes Country

Why use VPN 5 eyes

If you live in a 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes member country, the one thing you can be sure of is that your government is sharing your communications data with other member states.

If domestic laws do not allow them to collect your internet data, the chances are that they are allowing the SIGINT agencies of nations within the Alliances to do so on their behalf.

The NSA is the most likely culprit here although it could be GCHQ or one of a number of others too.

You might think that if you are doing nothing wrong online, you have nothing to fear. But that misses the point.

Everyone has a right to online privacy and in free democratic countries such as those that make up the Eyes Alliances, we have the right to go about our business without being constantly surveilled by our government, or indeed other governments, just in case we step out of line.

This is written in human rights and international law, yet the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes Alliances breach these laws every second with impunity.

Using a VPN gives you some degree of protection against this constant surveillance.

Learn More

Discover just how much a VPN can protect you against government surveillance.

They are not a guarantee that everything you do is safe. But they make state surveillance and therefore the intelligence that is available to share about you much harder to come by.

They encrypt your data in transit and as long as you choose a VPN with a no user logs guarantee that you can trust, they will not collect data about you that they can hand over to the local authorities.

Everyone living in one of the countries that is profiled in this article, which are member states of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, or 14 Eyes Alliances, should use a VPN whenever they are going online.

Furthermore, they should use a VPN that is not based in the jurisdiction of an Eyes Alliance member state too. Those recommended in the previous section of this guide are a good place to start.

Reasons to avoid VPNs based in 5/9/14 Eyes Countries

Avoid 5 eyes

In the detailed country-by-country section of this guide, we identified a number of the best-known VPNs that are headquartered in each of the 5 Eyes, 9 Eyes, and 14 Eyes countries.

Our advice to readers who care about their online privacy and don’t want to run any risk of their data being shared between these countries is to avoid using these VPNs.

That’s not to suggest for a minute that all of these providers are insecure, will leak your information, or that their no user logs guarantee isn’t genuine.

But they are under the jurisdiction of countries where the legal framework allows the sharing of private data with other intelligence agencies around the world.

While the domestic laws may not require VPNs to collect this data and hand it over yet, the example of Australia shows what can be introduced and the huge knock-on effect it can have.

If privacy really matters to you, you are best to stick with a VPN that is based in an offshore country where domestic laws allow providers to offer watertight privacy protections that you can trust.

This is why all of the VPNs we have recommended in this guide are under such jurisdiction.

Conclusion

5 Eyes conclusion

The 5 Eyes Alliance may have been created in another era to fight a Cold War which ended almost 30 years ago. But it is arguably more powerful and influential in today’s modern internet era than it has ever been.

It is thanks to Edward Snowden that we are aware of the 5 Eyes Alliance and indeed the expanded 9 Eyes and 14 Eyes Alliances too.

It is also thanks to Snowden that so many people these days are conscious of just how much they are spied upon by their own government in a supposedly free country.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is power, and that is why we have created this guide to tell you everything you need to know about the Eyes Alliances and how they affect you.

If you are reading this guide, it is quite likely that your online privacy matters to you.

If that is the case, we have made some recommendations on how to protect it, including suggesting the best VPNs to use to avoid your data falling into the Eyes Alliance net.

We will be keeping this guide regularly updated and if you have any comments or feedback on any aspect of this guide or even if you have further intelligence about the Eyes Alliances countries that you think our readers should know about, please do get in touch with us.

David Spencer

Author: David Spencer

Cyber-security & Technology Reporter, David, monitors everything going on in the privacy world. Fighting for a less restricted internet as a member of the VPNCompare team for over 3 years.

Away from writing, he enjoys reading and politics. He is currently learning Mandarin too... slowly.

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