Many of you may not have heard of Five Eyes, Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes and what the relevance of this is for users of VPNs while some of you might already know about this. No, this has nothing to do with different species of spiders but is actually something that all users of VPNs should be aware of.
Simply put, this is an agreement that was initially between Five Eyes countries that have since grown to be between fourteen countries which allows them to share signals intelligence. This type of intelligence involves the interception of communications made between people and electronic devices which are made accessible by the countries within the agreement.
What this essentially means is that if you are using a VPN that is based out of one of these countries, you are probably not browsing as privately as you might have thought.
Why 5 Eyes Was Originally Created
The UK and the US created the 5 Eyes agreement during WWII in order to monitor and share any intercepted communications that the picked up from the Soviet Union. The technology or software that was used to achieve this is Echelon, spy stations situated globally which would allow them to listen in on communications made by phone (later fax and computers too).
This software is capable of keeping millions of records on any single individual and its evolution over the years means that they are able to monitor the internet usage of anyone in the fourteen countries and share it among their governments.
Below you will be able to see how the 5 eyes countries have increased over the years for this agreement to now be known as ‘Fourteen Eyes’.
Although it was the UK and the US during the second world war that first came to an agreement with regards to sharing signals intelligence, it wasn’t until Australia, Canada and New Zealand joined that agreement before it was called ‘Five Eyes’. These Five Eyes countries share a common language and similar legal system, which is why they were the first to commit to the agreement.
Over the years the Five Eyes agreement evolved to allow 3rd party partners to join in as well and therefore with the addition of four more countries, was then called the Nine Eyes agreement. Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Norway were these partners and each of them participated in a different way to be allowed access to the NSA hardware and technology.
Formerly 5 eyes and then nine eyes, the agreement eventually became Fourteen Eyes when Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden became involved. To this day it is still those 14 countries that actively share signals intelligence and is a big reason why you might want to consider not using any VPN provider that is based in one of those countries.
Choose VPNs Based in Non-Five Eyes Countries
Any VPN that is run out of one of these 5 Eyes countries will obviously be (or could be) monitored which would mean that if you have an account with them, all of your internet activity could be as well. This kind of negates the use of a VPN in the first place as many decide to use a VPN for the added privacy that they provide.
Some people advise to not even connect to a server of a non-5 Eyes VPN that has been set up in one of these countries – but this should come down to your own preferences and just how far you want to go with it.
If you want the privacy that a VPN can bring you, you should certainly be using VPN providers that are not based out of any of these 14 countries. Fortunately, there are plenty of these to choose from.
You should always avoid free VPNs if possible as you are not going to get anywhere near the quality of service that you will with paid VPNs. Annoying adverts and limited usage are just two things you will have to deal with when using free VPNs.
VPNs That are Not Based in Five Eyes Countries
Before you go hunting for a VPN that is not located in a Five Eyes country, you should take a look at a few that we recommend as we have done the work for you. Each of these is based in countries that are not part of this agreement and therefore your internet activity should be as private as it can get.
Some will offer you the ability to try them out for a month with a 30-day money back guarantee – which is handy as you can try a number of them before deciding which is best for you.
One such VPN is that of the Panamanian-based NordVPN, a hugely popular VPN that is not only outside of the Fourteen Eyes but is also great value too. It offers more than 2,000 IP addresses, 4,000 servers and 60 different countries that you can take advantage of. All subscribers can use up to six different devices per account and can use beneficial features such as high-quality encryption and a kill switch.
PureVPN is based in Hong Kong and while many believe the others on this list are better, this is definitely one that should be considered. It offers good value through its subscriptions and has servers in an astonishing 141 different countries worldwide. This is an easy to use VPN and one that we feel is going places.
Switzerland is not a part of the Five Eyes agreement and therefore VyprVPN which is based there, is another VPN that is worth consideration. As many as five of your devices can be used to connect to this VPN network and a kill switch is among the many features that this VPN provides.
There are some other notable VPNs that are also based outside the fourteen countries and these include ExpressVPN, Trust.Zone, TigerVPN, AirVPN and CyberGhost. All of these should be checked out if you are not sure of the three that we have recommended.