The United Kingdom – United States of America Agreement (UKUSA, // yoo-koo-SAH)[note 1] is a multilateral agreement for cooperation in signals intelligence between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The alliance of intelligence operations is also known as the Five Eyes. In classification markings this is abbreviated as FVEY, with the individual countries being abbreviated as AUS, CAN, NZL, GBR, and USA, respectively.
Emerging from an informal agreement related to the 1941 Atlantic Charter, the secret treaty was renewed with the passage of the 1943 BRUSA Agreement, before being officially enacted on 5 March 1946 by the United Kingdom and the United States. In the following years, it was extended to encompass Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Other countries, known as "third parties", such as West Germany, the Philippines, and several Nordic countries, also joined the UKUSA community in associate capacities, although they are not part of mechanism for automatic sharing of intelligence that exists between the Five Eyes.
Much of the sharing of information is performed via the ultra-sensitive STONEGHOST network, which has been claimed to contain "some of the Western world's most closely guarded secrets". Besides laying down rules for intelligence sharing, the agreement formalized and cemented the "Special Relationship" between the UK and the US.
Due to its status as a secret treaty, its existence was not known to the Prime Minister of Australia until 1973, and it was not disclosed to the public until 2005. On 25 June 2010, for the first time in history, the full text of the agreement was publicly released by the United Kingdom and the United States, and can now be viewed online. Shortly after its release, the seven-page UKUSA Agreement was recognized by Time magazine as one of the Cold War's most important documents, with immense historical significance.
The global surveillance disclosure by Edward Snowden has shown that the intelligence-sharing activities between the First World allies of the Cold War are rapidly shifting into the digital realm of the Internet.
- Collection of traffic.
- Acquisition of communications documents and equipment.
- Traffic analysis.
- Decryption and translation.
- Acquisition of information regarding communications organizations, procedures, practices and equipment.
The agreement originated from a ten-page 1943 British–U.S. Communication Intelligence Agreement, BRUSA, that connected the signal intercept networks of the U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) at the beginning of the Cold War. The document was signed on 5 March 1946 by Colonel Patrick Marr-Johnson for the U.K.'s London Signals Intelligence Board and Lieutenant General Hoyt Vandenberg for the U.S. State–Army–Navy Communication Intelligence Board. Although the original agreement states that the exchange would not be "prejudicial to national interests", the United States often blocked information sharing from Commonwealth countries. The full text of the agreement was released to the public on 25 June 2010.
Onset of the Cold War (1950s–1960s)
Under the agreement, the GCHQ and the NSA shared intelligence on the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and several eastern European countries (known as Exotics). The network was expanded in the 1960s into the Echelon collection and analysis network.
The treaty was extended to include Canada (1948), Australia (1956) and New Zealand (1956). In 1955, the agreement was updated to designate Canada, Australia and New Zealand as "UKUSA-collaborating Commonwealth countries". Other countries that joined as "third parties" were Norway (1952), Denmark (1954) and West Germany (1955).
In the aftermath of the 1973 Murphy raids on the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the existence of the UKUSA Agreement was revealed to Australia's Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. After learning about the agreement, Whitlam discovered that Pine Gap, a secret surveillance station close to Alice Springs, Australia, had been operated by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
At the height of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, the use and control of Pine Gap by the CIA was strongly opposed by Whitlam, who fired the chief of the ASIO before being dismissed as prime minister.
The existence of several intelligence agencies of the Five Eyes was not revealed until the following years:
- In Canada, an investigative television report revealed the existence of the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC).
- In the United States, the Church Committee of the Senate revealed the existence of the National Security Agency (NSA).
- In Britain, an investigative article in Time Out magazine revealed the existence of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).
- In Australia, the Hope Commission revealed the existence of Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD).
- In New Zealand, the existence of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was officially disclosed on a "limited basis".
The existence of the UKUSA Agreement, however, was not publicly revealed until 2005. The contents of the agreement were officially disclosed to the public on 25 June 2010. Four days later, the agreement was described by Time magazine as one of the "most important documents in the history of the Cold War."
Recent media leaks
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Australia operates clandestine surveillance facilities at its embassies "without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats". These facilities are part of an international espionage program known as STATEROOM.
Security and intelligence agencies
Although the UKUSA alliance is often associated with the ECHELON system, processed intelligence is reliant on multiple sources of information and the intelligence shared is not restricted to signals intelligence. The following table provides an overview of the government agencies involved and their respective responsibilities within the "Five Eyes" community:
|Country||Signals intelligence||Defence intelligence||Security intelligence||Human intelligence|
|United Kingdom||Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)||Defence Intelligence (DI)||Security Service
|Secret Intelligence Service (SIS)|
|United States||National Security Agency (NSA)||Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)||Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)||Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)|
|Australia||Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)||Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO)||Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)||Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)|
|Canada||Communications Security Establishment (CSE)||Canadian Forces Intelligence Command (CFINTCOM)||Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS)|
|New Zealand||Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)||Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security (DDIS)||New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (SIS)|
Although precise assignments are classified, it is generally known that each member of the UKUSA alliance takes lead responsibility for intelligence collection and analysis in different parts of the globe.
The "Five Eyes", often abbreviated as "FVEY", refer to an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. These countries are bound by the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.
Australia monitors South Asia and East Asia.
Canada's geographical proximity to the Soviet Union provided considerable eavesdropping advantages during the Cold War. Canada continues to monitor the Russian and Chinese interior while managing intelligence assets in Latin America.
In addition to Southeast Asia, New Zealand is responsible for the western Pacific and maintains listening posts in the South Island at Waihopai Valley just south-west of Blenheim, and on the North Island at Tangimoana.
9 Eyes, 14 Eyes, and other "third parties"
The "Five Eyes" community is part of an extensive alliance of Western countries sharing signals intelligence with each other. These allied countries include NATO members, other European countries such as Sweden, and allies in the Pacific, in particular Singapore and South Korea.
Unlike the "second party" members (that is, the Five Eyes themselves), "third party" partners are not automatically exempt from intelligence targeting. According to an internal NSA document leaked by Snowden, "We (the NSA) can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners."
The Five Eyes are cooperating with various 3rd Party countries in at least two groups:
- The "Nine Eyes", consisting of the Five Eyes plus Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and Norway.
- The "Fourteen Eyes", consisting of the same countries as the Nine Eyes plus Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Sweden. The actual name of this group is SIGINT Seniors Europe (SSEUR) and its purpose is coordinating the exchange of military signals intelligence among its members.
Germany is reportedly interested in moving closer to the inner circle: an internal GCHQ document from 2009 said that the "Germans were a little grumpy at not being invited to join the 9-Eyes group." Germany may even wish to join Five Eyes. Referring to Five Eyes, French President François Hollande has said that his country is "not within that framework and we don't intend to join." According to a former top U.S. official, "Germany joining would be a possibility, but not France – France itself spies on the US far too aggressively for that."
National Security Agency surveillance
During the 2013 NSA leaks Internet spying scandal, the surveillance agencies of the "Five Eyes" have been accused of intentionally spying on one another's citizens and willingly sharing the collected information with each other, allegedly circumventing laws preventing each agency from spying on its own citizens.
The 2013 NSA leaks are not entirely new, but rather, they are a confirmation of earlier disclosures about the UK-US espionage alliance. For example, the British newspaper The Independent reported back in 1996 that the U.S. National Security Agency "taps UK phones" at the request of the British intelligence agency MI5, thus allowing British agents to evade restrictive limitations on domestic telephone tapping.
The mutual surveillance and sharing of information between allies of the UK and US resurfaced again during the 2013 mass surveillance disclosures. As described by the news magazine Der Spiegel, this was done to circumvent domestic surveillance regulations:
Britain's GCHQ intelligence agency can spy on anyone but British nationals, the NSA can conduct surveillance on anyone but Americans, and Germany's BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst) foreign intelligence agency can spy on anyone but Germans. That's how a matrix is created of boundless surveillance in which each partner aids in a division of roles. They exchanged information. And they worked together extensively. That applies to the British and the Americans, but also to the BND, which assists the NSA in its Internet surveillance.
According to The Guardian, the "Five Eyes" community is an exclusive club where new members "do not seem to be welcome":
It does not matter how senior you are, and how close a friend you think you are to Washington or London, your communications could easily be being shared among the handful of white, English-speaking nations with membership privileges.
In 2013, Canadian federal judge Richard Mosley strongly rebuked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for outsourcing its surveillance of Canadians to overseas partner agencies. A 51-page ruling says that the CSIS and other Canadian federal agencies are illegally enlisting U.S. and British allies in global surveillance dragnets, while keeping domestic federal courts in the dark.
The following documents were jointly released by the NSA and the GCHQ in 2010:
Signatures of the Chiefs of staff of Britain and America (March 1946)
Text under the Top Secret heading: "To be kept under lock and key: Never to be removed from office." (Appendix F)
Disclosed by Edward Snowden
NSA's relationship with Norway's NIS (April 2013)
NSA's relationship with Sweden's FRA under the UKUSA Agreement (April 2013)
Details of NSA's agreement to share personal data of U.S. citizens with Israel's ISNU
NSA's relationship with Canada's CSEC
- ABCA Armies
- Air and Space Interoperability Council (air forces)
- AUSCANNZUKUS (navies)
- Collective intelligence
- Combined Communications Electronics Board (communication-electronics)
- Five Eyes (intelligence)
- Five Nations Passport Group
- Signals intelligence by alliances, nations and industries
- Special Relationship
- The Technical Cooperation Program (technology and science)
- Also known as the Quadripartite Agreement or Quadripartite Pact.
- "Declassified UKUSA Signals Intelligence Agreement Documents Available" (Press release). National Security Agency. 24 June 2010. Archived from the original on 16 July 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- EPIC, Privacy International (2002), Privacy and Human Rights 2002: An International Survey of Privacy Rights and Developments, EPIC, p. 100, ISBN 1-893044-16-5
- Cox, James (December 2012). "Canada and the Five Eyes Intelligence Community" (PDF). Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2014.
- Farrell, Paul (2 December 2013). "History of 5-Eyes – explainer". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
- McGregor, Richard. "Global Insight: US spying risks clouding 'five eyes' vision". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 August 2013.
- Grubb, Ben. "Mission almost impossible: keeping a step ahead of prying 'Five Eyes'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 18 April 2014. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
- Gurney, Matt. "Canada Navy Spy Case". National Post. Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
- Top Level Telecommunications, Five Eyes, 9-Eyes and many more Archived 18 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, 15 November 2013
- Norton-Taylor, Richard (25 June 2010). "Not so secret: deal at the heart of UK-US intelligence". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 December 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Gallagher, Ryan (19 June 2014). "How Secret Partners Expand NSA's Surveillance Dragnet". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 16 August 2014. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Gordon, Rob. "Navy spy probe kept military in dark: documents". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 19 September 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
The military's fears were well-founded, given Delisle had access to terabytes of some of the Western world's most closely guarded secrets. He operated a computer system called Stone Ghost, which links the intelligence services of the Five Eyes: the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
- Gardham, Duncan (24 June 2010). "Document that formalised 'special relationship' with the US". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2013.
- Adam White (29 June 2010). "How a Secret Spy Pact Helped Win the Cold War". Time. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Chittley, Jordan & Newman, Kevin. "Canada's role in secret intelligence alliance Five Eyes". CTV News. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- "Newly released GCHQ files: UKUSA Agreement". The National Archives. June 2010. Archived from the original on 26 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
The files contain details of the recently avowed UKUSA Agreement – the top secret, post-war arrangement for sharing intelligence between the United States and the UK. Signed by representatives of the London Signals Intelligence Board and its American counterpart in March 1946, the UKUSA Agreement is without parallel in the Western intelligence world and formed the basis for co-operation between the two countries throughout the Cold War.
- Eddy, Melissa (9 July 2013). "For Western Allies, a Long History of Swapping Intelligence". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 13 September 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Smith, Nathan. "The world of signals intelligence and GCSB in context". National Business Review. Archived from the original on 3 July 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
A partnership with various telecommunications industries has secured access to the internet for the UKUSA signals agencies. All traffic on the internet and via emails is reportedly captured and stored.
- Abdo, Alexander & Toomey, Patrick. "The NSA is turning the internet into a total surveillance system". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Aldrich, Richard (24 June 2010). "Allied code-breakers co-operate – but not always". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 15 September 2013. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Gardham, Duncan (24 June 2010). "Document that formalised 'special relationship' with the US". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 28 June 2010. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
- Norton-Taylor, Richard (25 June 2010). "Not so secret: deal at the heart of UK-US intelligence". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 5 December 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Ley, Jenny (1 February 2003). "Australia and America: a 50-year affair". The Age. Archived from the original on 28 April 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Gill, Peter (1994). Policing Politics: Security Intelligence and the Liberal Democratic State (1. publ. ed.). London u.a.: Cass. p. 198. ISBN 0-7146-3490-5.
- Leslie, Tim. "Explained: Australia's involvement with the NSA, the US spy agency at heart of global scandal". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
Its existence was allegedly so secret that prime ministers were unaware of the agreement until 1973 – the same year the Commonwealth raided ASIO
- Pugh, Michael C. (1989). The ANZUS Crisis, Nuclear Visiting and Deterrence (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-521-34355-0.
- Campbell, Duncan (28 May 1999). "Australia first to admit "we're part of global surveillance system"". Heise Online. Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Freeze, Colin (30 November 2013). "How CSEC became an electronic spying giant". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Schorr, Daniel (29 January 2006). "A Brief History of the NSA". NPR. Archived from the original on 19 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Ewen MacAskill, Julian Borger & Glenn Greenwald (6 June 2013). "The National Security Agency: surveillance giant with eyes on America". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
- Norton-Taylor, Richard (21 August 2013). "Surveillance secrecy: the legacy of GCHQ's years under cover". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
GCHQ's cover was first blown in 1976 by an article, The Eavesdroppers, published by the London magazine, Time Out.
- "Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security". National Archives of Australia. Archived from the original on 11 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
But Justice Hope also investigated the Joint Intelligence Organisation (JIO), the Defence Signals Division (DSD) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) whose existence was not officially confirmed until 1977.
- "History of the GCSB". Government Communications Security Bureau. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
In 1977, the then Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon, approved the formation of the GCSB, but its functions and activities were kept secret. In 1980 it was decided that the existence of the GCSB could be disclosed on a limited basis, leading to the first briefings of the Cabinet and the Leader of the Opposition.
- Duncan Campbell & Mark Honigsbaum (23 May 1999). "Britain and US spy on world". The Observer. Archived from the original on 19 December 2013. Retrieved 19 December 2013.
- "NZ role with global spying alliance". The New Zealand Herald. 30 June 2000. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ Archived 25 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 1 August 2013. Retrieved 2 Aug 2013.
- Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras & Ewen MacAskill. "NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans' data with Israel | World news". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 13 September 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2014.
- Philip Dorling (31 October 2013). "Exposed: Australia's Asia spy network". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 21 December 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
- "Five Eyes". United States Army Combined Arms Center. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "PKI Interoperability with FVEY Partner Nations on the NIPRNet". United States Department of the Navy. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
- "They're Listening To Your Calls". Bloomberg Businessweek. 30 May 1999. Archived from the original on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Duncan Campbell (25 July 2000). "Inside Echelon". Heinz Heise. Archived from the original on 26 January 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
The system was established under a secret 1947 "UKUSA Agreement," which brought together the British and American systems, personnel and stations. To this was soon joined the networks of three British commonwealth countries, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Later, other countries including Norway, Denmark, Germany and Turkey signed secret sigint agreements with the United States and became "third parties" participants in the UKUSA network.
- "Edward Snowden Interview: The NSA and Its Willing Helpers". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 6 July 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
- Poitras, Laura; Rosenbach, Marcel & Stark, Holger. "Ally and Target: US Intelligence Watches Germany Closely". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 20 August 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2013.
The NSA classifies about 30 other countries as "3rd parties," with whom it cooperates, though with reservations. Germany is one of them. "We can, and often do, target the signals of most 3rd party foreign partners," the secret NSA document reads.
- "Denmark is one of the NSA's '9-Eyes'". The Copenhagen Post (in Danish). 4 November 2013. Archived from the original on 9 June 2015. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- Ewen MacAskill and James Ball (2 November 2013), Portrait of the NSA: no detail too small in quest for total surveillance Archived 2 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine The Guardian
- Top Level Telecommunications, 14-Eyes are 3rd Party partners forming the SIGINT Seniors Europe Archived 19 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine, 15 December 2013
- David Sanger and Mark Mazzetti (24 October 2013), Allegation of U.S. Spying on Merkel Puts Obama at Crossroads Archived 5 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine The New York Times
- Bruno Waterfield (25 October 2013), EU leaders warn US 'spying' could harm fight against terror Archived 25 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine The Daily Telegraph
- Gregor Peter Schmitz (28 October 2013), Appearances and Reality: Merkel Balks at EU Privacy Push Archived 1 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine Der Spiegel
- GCHQ taps fibre-optic cables for secret access to world's communications Archived 17 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 21 June 2013. Retrieved July 2013.
- NSA 'offers intelligence to British counterparts to skirt UK law' Archived 29 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 10 June 2013. Retrieved July 2013.
- GCHQ-NSA revelations – Hague responds: politics blog Archived 17 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 10 June 2013, Retrieved July 2013.
- British spy agency taps cables, shares with U.S. NSA – Guardian Archived 25 January 2014 at the Wayback Machine, Reuters, 21 June 2013. Retrieved July 2013.
- Chris Blackhurst & John Gilbert (22 September 1996). "US spy base 'taps UK phones for MI5'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 4 March 2018. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
- Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock. "Cover Story: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe". Der Spiegel. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- Julian Borger. "Merkel spying claim: with allies like these, who needs enemies?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 24 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.
- Colin Freeze (20 December 2013). "Canada's spy agencies chastised for duping courts". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on 25 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Ian MacLeod (20 December 2013). "CSIS asked foreign agencies to spy on Canadians, kept court in dark, judge says". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.
- Stewart Bell (25 November 2013). "Court rebukes CSIS for secretly asking international allies to spy on Canadian terror suspects travelling abroad". National Post. Archived from the original on 27 December 2013. Retrieved 27 December 2013.