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Five Eyes Definition & Meaning

The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The countries are bound by the multilateral United Kingdom - United States of American (UKUSA) Agreement for cooperation in signal intelligence, military intelligence, and human intelligence.

The United States and Britain had a strong intelligence relationship in World War II, and it was formalized after the war with the UKUSA agreement in 1946. The purpose was to streamline the intelligence-sharing process between the two in order to better handle global threats, such as the Soviet Union. By 1955, the role of the other nationals was formalized when the agreement was updated to include Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

FVEY functions as a spying force that works closely together to collect mass surveillance data and share it with relevant parties. It is not controlled by any government and therefore has power to spy over citizens of the member states. Very little was known about FVEY before 2013, when a former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, Edward Snowden, leaked information connected to the Five Eyes concerning the widespread surveillance of the public's online activities by the alliance. With this information, it became clear FVEY is more extensive than previously thought.

Notable people under (or previously under) FVEY surveillance include Charlie Chaplin, Jane Fonda, Kim Dotcom, John Lennon, and Nelson Mandela.

Nine and Fourteen Eyes

In addition to FVEY, two other international intelligence-sharing agreements have been confirmed: Nine Eyes and Fourteen Eyes. Both are extensions of the original alliance, and while these countries may not share as much information with each other as the FVEY, they are still active and widely participate in international intelligence sharing.

  • Nine Eyes: Five Eyes plus Denmark, France, Holland, and Norway
  • Fourteen Eyes: Nine Eyes plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, and Spain









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