Five Eyes

The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an alliance of intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

It is the most well known of all espionage alliances in the world.

This article will give further details about (FVEY) within the context of the IAS Exam.

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History of the Five Eyes

The origins of the Five Eyes can be traced back to the end of World War II when the Allies set down post-war goals in the Atlantic Charter.

Later when the Cold War began in earnest, a surveillance system code-named ECHELON was developed by the FVEY to intercept and monitor communications of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact members.

It was not until the end of the Cold War in the early 90s when the existence of ECHELON was disclosed to the wider public. This triggered a debate about the use of surveillance technology in the European Parliament and the United States Congress.

When the ‘war on terror’ broke out in 2001, the FVEY further expanded its surveillance capabilities to monitor the World Wide Web in order to pick up online chatter between terror groups. But critics of this system had alleged that such surveillance was not just monitoring suspected terrorists but also private citizens.

A controversy soon erupted when Edward Snowden, a former contractor of the American National Security Agency leaked classified documents in the public domain in 2013. The documents revealed that the Five Eyes have been spying on private citizens of their own respective nations and gathering information on them in order to bypass restrictions on domestic surveillance of private citizens.

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Agencies of the Five Eyes

The table below gives a general idea of the agencies involved in the Five Eyes Alliance.

Agencies of the Five Eyes

Country / Agency Role
Australia

  • Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)
  • Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation  (ASIO)
  • Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO)
  • Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO)
Human intelligence

Signal Intelligence

Security Intelligence

Geospatial Intelligence

Defence Intelligence

Canada

  • Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM)
  • Communications Security Establishment (CSE)
  • Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)
Defence intelligence, Geo Intelligence, Human Intelligence

Signal intelligence

Human intelligence, Security intelligence

New Zealand

  • Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security (DDIS)
  • Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS)
Defence Intelligence

Signals Intelligence

Human Intelligence

United Kingdom

 

  • Defence Intelligence (DI)
  • Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)
  • Security Service (MI5)
  • Secret Intelligence Service (MI6, SIS)
Defence Intelligence

Signal Intelligence

Security Intelligence

Human Intelligence

United States of America

  • Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
  • Defense Intelligence Agency ( DIA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)

 

  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency  (NGA)
  • National Security Agency (NSA)
Human Intelligence

Defence Intelligence

Security Intelligence

Geo Intelligence

Signal Intelligence

Notable Operations of the FVEY

Below are some of the well-known operations carried out by the FVEY post-world war II.

  • The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA shared intelligence gathered from military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union, its Eastern Bloc allies and that of China
  • During the Vietnam War, Australian and New Zealand operatives worked directly to support the United States in monitoring North Vietnamese air defence networks.
  • Following the end of the Gulf War Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) used one of its technicians to bug Kuwaiti government offices.

India and the FVEY

At a virtual meeting held in June 2020, the five-member countries shared concerns regarding Covid-19 and a belligerent China flexing its muscles in the Indo-Pacific region.

As per officials familiar with the development, there has been talk about including countries like India, South Korean and Japan as additional members of the Five Eye India, along with Japan and South Korea, are being looked upon as the natural team members of this alliance in view of the recent geopolitical developments that owe their existence to China.

With the signing of agreements like BECA and LEMOA with the United States, such a possibility isn’t off the table in the foreseeable future. Such an alliance would enhance India’s own surveillance capabilities further.

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