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Eyes Wide Open

Prying open the Five Eyes arrangement and bringing it under the rule of law.

For almost 70 years, a secret post-war alliance of five English-speaking countries has been building a global surveillance infrastructure to “master the internet” and spy on the worlds communications. This arrangement binds together the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand to create what’s collectively known as the Five Eyes.

While the existence of the agreement has been kept secret from the public and parliaments, dogged investigative reporting from Duncan Campbell, Nicky Hager, and James Bamford have been trying to uncover the extent of the arrangement for years. Now, thanks to Edward Snowden, the public are able to understand more of the spying that is being done in our name than ever before.

The invasive and indiscriminate surveillance that is being conducted in secret, and justified on the basis of secret bi-lateral agreements and inaccessible legal frameworks, must come to an end.

The Five Eyes – in conjunction with others – have infiltrated every aspect of modern communications systems. We know that their capabilities include directly accessing internet companies’ data, tapping international fibre optic cables, sabotaging encryption standards and standards bodies, hacking the routers, switches and firewalls that connect the internet together, and obtaining information from almost any source in the world they are able to get access to.

Yet, because the agreement is shrouded in secrecy, we do not have access to the covert agreements and treaties that govern up the alliance. We have no ability to challenge their implementation and their impact upon our human rights. We cannot hold our governments accountable when their actions are obfuscated through secret deals.

To expose the activities of the Five Eyes, Privacy International, through its Eyes Wide Open campaign, will aim to:

  1. Pry open the Five Eyes arrangement and subject the world’s most powerful and secret intelligence-sharing regime to appropriate transparency and scrutiny;
  2. Challenge the legal frameworks that enable global surveillance practices, and particularly that discriminate between nationals and foreigners with respect to human rights obligations;
  3. Promote an understanding of human rights obligations as applying to all individuals under a State’s jurisdiction, regardless of their location; and
  4. Campaign for policies that bring intelligence agencies under the rule of law.   

Special Report: Eyes Wide Open

Our special report shining a light on the secretive Five Eyes alliance, where we lay out how the laws around which the Five Eyes are constructed violate human rights law, and argue the Five Eyes States owe a general duty not to interfere with communications that pass through their territorial borders. Read the report...

Five Eyes Declassified Documents

Few documents have been released detailing the Five Eyes surveillance arrangement. To read the documents available, click here for the National Archives and here for the NSA's release of the UKUSA Agreement.

End Mass Surveillance

In 2013, we learned digital surveillance by world governments knows no bounds. Join the global movement demanding the protection of human rights and an end to mass surveillance. Click here to take action...

Eyes Wide Open

Report
26-Nov-2013

Our special report shining a light on the secretive Five Eyes alliance, where we lay out how the laws around which the Five Eyes are constructed violate human rights law, and argue the Five Eyes States owe a general duty not to interfere with communications that pass through their territorial borders.

Blog
Carly Nyst's picture

In response to a consultation being undertaken by the UN in accordance with December’s General Assembly resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age, Privacy International today called on the United Nations to recognise that mass surveillance is incompatible with human rights.

The submission to the Office of the High Commissioner to Human Rights confronts some of the biggest challenges to the right to privacy in the digital age, debunks some of the justifications put forth by the Five Eyes governments in response to the Snowden revelations, and argues that States owe human rights obligations to all individuals subject to their jurisdiction.

In the media
Publisher: 
Deutsche Welle
Publication date: 
25-Mar-2014
Author(s): 
Ben Knight
Original story link: 

"This story is pretty frightening," Privacy International spokesman Mike Rispoli told DW. "It's extremely remarkable just from a technical standpoint that they have it." On top of this, given that MYSTIC was launched in 2009 and according to the Post "reached full capacity against the first target nation in 2011," we can only guess at the program's reach and power now. "This is news from a few years ago," Rispoli pointed out. "We don't know where they're at right now in terms of capacity."

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In the media
Publisher: 
Middle East Monitor
Publication date: 
25-Mar-2014
Author(s): 
Alastair Sloan
Original story link: 

Campaign groups such as Privacy International and Amnesty International are currently outspoken in their criticism of lax export controls on IT intrusion software, having expressed their concerns to Parliament repeatedly.

In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
27-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Matthew Taylor
Original story link: 

Carly Nyst, Privacy International's legal director, said the revelation underlined the importance of democratic societies being able to limit the activities of intelligence agencies.

"Today we've found out that the way we now use technology to stay in touch with friends, family and loved ones means many of our most private thoughts and experiences are available for viewing by GCHQ. How can collecting and storing these intimate moments possibly help protect national security?

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In the media
Publisher: 
SC Magazine
Publication date: 
03-Mar-2014
Author(s): 
Doug Drinkwater
Original story link: 

The Don't Spy On Us Campaign, a coalition between UK and international civil liberties groups – including Privacy International and Big Brother Watched, welcomed the talk.

“The Don't Spy on Us campaign welcomes the speech by Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and her calls for reform of the oversight and legal frameworks for surveillance," the group wrote on its website. "She is right to contrast the strength of the political debate in the US with the very muted reaction here in the UK, even though GCHQ has engaged in the very same mass population surveillance as the NSA.

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In the media
Publisher: 
The Intercept
Publication date: 
18-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Glenn Greenwald and Ryan Gallagher
Original story link: 

But privacy advocates question such assurances. “How could targeting an entire website’s user base be necessary or proportionate?” says Gus Hosein, executive director of the London-based human rights group Privacy International. “These are innocent people who are turned into suspects based on their reading habits. Surely becoming a target of a state’s intelligence and security apparatus should require more than a mere click on a link.”

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
Computer Weekly
Publication date: 
07-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Warwick Ashford
Original story link: 

Liberty, Big Brother Watch and Privacy International have described the inquiry as “deeply flawed” in an open letter to the ISC with copies to the prime minister and his deputy.

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In the media
Publisher: 
Wired UK
Publication date: 
14-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Katie Collins
Original story link: 

"While the IPT has a history of siding with Government, today the Tribunal expressed well-founded scepticism of several of the government's positions, which were built upon continued refusals to acknowledge the existence of the Tempora programme, despite the reams of material to the contrary that are now in the public domain.

"The Government's continuing insistence on neither confirming nor denying Tempora borders on the absurd and blocks us from having a full and robust debate about whether such mass surveillance is lawful."

Countries: 
In the media
Publisher: 
The Guardian
Publication date: 
14-Feb-2014
Author(s): 
Owen Bowcott
Original story link: 

Privacy International said : "All internet and telephone communications, without meaningful limits, are being collected, stored and analysed by the security and intelligence services, regardless of any grounds for suspicion. This raises important issues of law and principle."

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