Surveillance Is Netting the World: Is there a Way Out?
It is hardly a secret that electronic surveillance has pervaded the world and formed a network, which involves thousands of intelligence groups located in every region. The net is expanding all the time. Is protection of personal information ever possible now?
Apart from NSA, there are signals intelligence agencies (SIGINT) in most countries, which carry out a variety of surveillance tasks, including counterintelligence activities, gathering of data and information, bugging and intercepting communication channels and signals. This has become part of law enforcement in these countries. It is no longer uncommon for users to get their phones and PCs/mobile devices tapped and hacked. There is nothing to guarantee that your email correspondence is still secure and/or protection of personal information is available. It should be noted that some legal steps are being taken to keep control of these activities.
There are the Five Eyes, Nine Eyes, and Fourteen Eyes agreements, which coordinate and regulate this work on a legal basis. SIGINT agencies get access to personal and private data through cooperation with ISPs and telecommunication companies. ISPs agree to use optic splitters, so that SIGINTS can directly copy the being channeled through the services, and send them to data centers for analysis. This makes ordinary people quite vulnerable, and a good paid or free VPN service (like BroVPN) can be a solution.
The Five Eyes Agreement
The agreement originated shortly after the end of the WWII. First, it was a bilateral agreement signed by the USA and Great Britain (the UKUSA Agreement) to regulate the process of spying on foreign governments, particularly those of the USSR ant its satellites. Later, the alliance was joined by Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and the ECHELON network of electronic surveillance stations was built across these five countries. These stations were to intercept any and all data traveling between telephones, computers, faxes, and other systems. As technology progressed and with the advent of the Internet, there was more data to be intercepted, and the scope of the ECHELON’s work went far beyond the Cold War field. Eventually, the agreement switched to civil and domestic surveillance. Protection of personal information? Welcome to BigBro era. Well, except you use reliable VPN service provider.
Today, the agreement acts as a basis for strong cooperation between SIGNIT agencies located in these countries, as they share intelligence. Their main focus is tracking anything and anyone who has access to data and technology used by the National Security Agency (NSA). The 5 Eyes agreement, as well as other SIGNIT agreements are based on NSA principles. Services that are located in the five treaty member countries have the closest cooperation with NSA and therefore are the first ones to access the agency’s data. They are termed as “second-parties” to the UKUSA Agreement. Other western countries – NATO members plus South Korea, are termed “third-party countries,” who operate based on bilateral third-party agreements. They have much less access to the NSA database.
Formally, citizens of second-party countries are not supposed to be spied on, but there is evidence showing that the NSA has learnt to circumvent such barriers, and there is no guaranteed leak protection. None of the five members have made any comments, and there is no information confirming or rejecting any facts of unauthorized surveillance activities carried out by these nations. Citizens of third party countries are even more vulnerable to potential attacks and data leaks.
Finally, these groups change members all the time, as the global political situation is getting less predictable. What we know about these intelligence groups right now is based on the leaked data. Although the picture is far from clear, there is one thing we know: these intelligence agencies enjoy a lot of freedom in accessing any data. Against them there isn’t any protection of personal information, but there’s always a risk that leak protection will fail.
The Nine Eyes Group
The Nine Eyes group unifies the Five Eyes countries plus Norway, France, Denmark and the Netherlands, which operate as third parties. These countries do not form a treaty organization, all they do together is share intelligence data upon the agreement they have signed. Actually, the whole cooperation comes down to interactions between SIGNIT agencies located in these countries.
The Fourteen Eyes Group
This group comprises the Nine Eyes countries plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Sweden, who participate in the SIGNIT intelligence sharing program on a third-party basis. The group has been around for 37 years (since 1982), and it is known officially as SSEUR (the SIGNIT Seniors of Europe). Originally, it was built to target the USSR and its satellites. The organization holds meetings attended by the heads of SIGNIT agencies. There they discuss and outline new strategies and issues to keep up with today’s processes. Although the group does include both Five Eye and Nine Eye countries, it should be regarded as a separate group. It operates on the basis of an agreement between different agencies.
There are other third-party countries, which cooperate with NSA, such as Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Israel. In 2005, the SIGINT Seniors of the Pacific was established in addition to the SIGINT Seniors of Europe. Along with the Five Eyes group, the new agreement unified France, Thailand, South Korea, Singapore and India. Not only western countries would form this kind of alliances: a similar agreement has been signed between China, Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
How Does It Affect Us?
This kind of international agreement provides what the Electronic Frontier Foundation calls the lowest privacy denominator. The Five Eyes members enjoy the advantages of the NSA’s projects, as well as from the Investigatory Powers Act that is acting in Great Britain. Once the act is passed, it will spread to all these countries. This is bad news for many of us, as we may end up with a lot of protection of personal information and confidential data being accessed by NSA and the numerous SIGINT agencies at any time. There is nothing to guarantee that an ordinary user’s website will not be hacked one day, which can have very bad consequences.
To counter the threat, one should use an encrypted connection through a reliable VPN service. Once you have connected to BroVPN VPN provider, surveillance services will not be able to easily track you. The platform will ensure that none of your message or data will leak, and your privacy is not going to be violated. They will not be able to see what sites you have visited and who you have been talking to online. Our service offers a variety of packages with different encryption levels, so you can choose the best one affordable for you. Join reliable VPN – BroVPN – and communicate safely, no matter where you are!
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