'Five Eyes' must be challenged in the Age of Trump

The dangers of mass surveillance intelligence methods and international sharing arrangements

Felicity Ruby

Edward Snowden made the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) a household name. Less well known, though, is the term 'Five Eyes', referring to the intelligence collection and sharing arrangements between the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, with 'AUS/CAN/NZ/ UK/US EYES ONLY' or FVEY appearing often in Snowden cache documents.

The genesis of the Five Eyes arrangement occurred during World War II, when the UK and the USA shared technology, techniques in decryption and intelligence derived from breaking German and Japanese diplomatic and military?codes. The continuation of war-time practices into the post-war environment was confirmed on 5 March 1946 with the signing of the UKUSA Agreement, which was expanded in 1947?to include Canada, Australia and New Zealand as 'UKUSA- collaborating Commonwealth Countries', also known as Second Parties or, as former Director-General of MI5 Stephen Lander once overheard a US intelligence chief calling them, "islands with aerials"?.




The agreement has been very regularly updated and supplemented with several hundred administrative and procedural 'ties that bind', but at its core commits each party?to gather signals intelligence in their designated geographic zone and to share, in the words of US Department of Defense Historian Michael Warner "almost everything from the raw take to their nished analytical products and the equipment, services and secrets that fed into their production"?.




By the end of the Cold War, the Five Eyes spanned the globe and could intercept signals intelligence through a system?that gathered communications through fax, radio, telephone, and internet. This mass surveillance is only possible with the combined infrastructure, labour, facilities, and shared procedures for analysing raw data collected by the intelligence institutions of all Five Eyes partners.?