The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
These countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
City of London alliance Contributors
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States
• Atlantic Charter
14 August 1941
• BRUSA Agreement
17 May 1943
The origins of the FVEY “five eye” can be traced back to the post–World War II period, when the Atlantic Charter was issued by the Allies to lay out their goals for a post-war world.
During the course of the Cold War, the ECHELON surveillance system was initially developed by the FVEY to monitor the communications of the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc, although it is now used to monitor private communications worldwide.
In the late 1990s, the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the public, triggering a major debate in the European Parliament and, to a lesser extent, the United States Congress.
The FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities during the course of the “war on terror”, with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web.
The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organisation that does not answer to the known laws of its own countries”.
Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY has been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on surveillance of citizens.
In spite of continued controversy over its methods, the Five Eyes relationship remains one of the most comprehensive known espionage alliances in history.
NSA Headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland, United States
ASIO central office, Canberra, Australia
GCHQ, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
CSE, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Since processed intelligence is gathered from multiple sources, the intelligence shared is not restricted to signals intelligence (SIGINT) and often involves defence intelligence as well as human intelligence (HUMINT) and geospatial intelligence (GEOINT).