Five Eyes ELINT / ELNOTs
Five Eyes ELINT (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising five-member states — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States — sharing Signal intelligence (SIGINT) and, more specifically, all-source intelligence of both internal and external security challenges to the member states and their partners. These states are members of the multilateral United Kingdom – United States Agreement (UK USA Agreement), a deal for collaboration that began from an informal agreement related to the 1941 Atlantic Charter during the Second World War against Nazi Germany. This secret agreement was renewed with the approval of the 1943 BRUSA Agreement before being officially declared on 5 March 1946 by the U.K. and the U.S. to focus on emerging challenges such as the Soviet Union.
In the beginning, compromising only the U.K. and therefore the United States, it expanded to include Canada in 1948 and Australia and New Zealand in 1956, all of those last three English-speaking countries, members of the Commonwealth of countries compared to Britain. Thereby, the ‘Five Eyes’ term was created from the lengthy ‘AUS/CAN/NZ/UK/ Eyes Only’ classification level that included the ‘eyes’ that would have access to status papers and knowledge. The Five Eyes encompasses over 465 million citizens with quite 20 national intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence (CIA) and, therefore, the National Security Agency (NSA), two of the most important agencies globally with advanced technical capabilities. The mission is two-fold: while keeping an in-depth watch on citizens to stop national extremism and terrorism (internal threats), the alliance also shares information about potential security vulnerabilities coming from the surface, like terrorist groups and other intelligence agencies (e.g., KGB during the conflict, Russian Intelligence agencies after 1992).
While the Five Eyes co-operation is understood to the general public, also because the participating agencies and therefore the laws restricting them, the operations have remained classified, and searching by keywords like “UKUSA” or “Five Eyes” on the CIA FOIA website (the CIA declassified archives) doesn’t provide anything but a couple of declassified open newspaper articles. On the NSA’s website, there are only a couple of documents available, mainly the legal contents of the agreements from 1940 to 1956. If it weren’t for Edward Snowden and, therefore, the documents leaked in 2013, we might not remember the extensive interaction between these agencies. Five Eyes nations’ electronic intelligence (ELINT) operators use a previously little-known system, called ELINT notations (ELNOTs), to spot the unique emissions from radar and other non-communications systems, consistent with a series of recent publications. The existence of this arrangement was revealed in partially redacted articles within the U.S. National Security Agency’s Cryptolog magazine dating from the 1980s and also touched upon in academic papers published recently by the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School.
The Five Eyes countries are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the U.K., and therefore the U.S. The Five Eyes intelligence group made its way from close UK-US intelligence collaboration during the Second war. During the first stages of the conflict, faced by growing Soviet conventional and nuclear threats, American and British intelligence cooperation became even more intimate, particularly within the realm of SIGINT (SIGINT) and cryptology. The 1946 British-US Communication Intelligence (UKUSA) Agreement created a Top Secret sphere of SIGINT co-operation whose existence was denied by participating governments for several years. Other intelligence agencies began to cooperate more efficiently with the Five Eyes agencies. By the top of the 20th century, the ECHELON surveillance network had evolved into a worldwide system capable of sweeping up massive amounts of personal and commercial communications, including telephone calls, fax, e-mail, and other data traffic. This was done through the interception of communication bearers like satellite transmission and public switched telephone networks.
The Five Eyes has two sorts of information collection methods: the PRISM program and the Upstream collection system. The PRISM program gathers user information from technology firms like Google, Apple, and Microsoft. In contrast, the Upstream system gathers information directly from the communications of civilians via fiber cables and infrastructure as data flows past. The program’s first disclosure to the general public came in 1972 when a former NSA communications analyst reported to Ramparts Magazine that the NSA had developed technology that “could crack all Soviet codes.” In 1988, Duncan Campbell revealed within the New Statesman the existence of ECHELON, an extension of the UKUSA Agreement on global SIGINT. The story, ‘Somebody’s listening,’ detailed how the eavesdropping operations weren’t only being employed within the interests of ‘national security’ but were regularly abused for corporate espionage within the service folks’ business interests.
The piece went mostly unnoticed apart from journalism circles. In 1996, an in-depth description of ECHELON was provided by New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager during a book titled “Secret Power – New Zealand’s Role within the International Spy Network,” which was cited by the E.U. Parliament during a 1998 report titled “An Appraisal of the Technology of Political Control” (PE 168.184). In March 2000, the Parliament involved a resolution on the Five Eyes and their ECHELON network, which might have demanded the “complete dismantling of ECHELON.” Three months later, the Temporary Committee on ECHELON was found out by the E.U. Parliament to research the ECHELON surveillance network. However, consistent with a variety of European politicians like Esko Seppänen of Finland, these investigations were hindered by E.U. Commission. In the U.S., congressional legislators warned that the ECHELON system might be wont to monitor U.S. citizens. On 14 May 2001, the U.S. government had halted all official meetings with the Temporary Committee on ECHELON. A BBC report in May 2001 said, “the U.S. Government still doesn’t admit that ECHELON even exists.”
Even though the alliance is known throughout the world and its existence is the subject of endless debates, the actual knowledge of how the Five Eyes works are still clouded by the security measures that involve almost everything related to the Five Eyes. The secretiveness of the intelligence is so intense that the agreement that started it was not in the awareness of Gough Whitlam, then Prime Minister of Australia, as late as 1973, and it did not come to the public attention until 2005. Only in June 2010, the full text of the UKUSA Agreement was released by the British and American governments and, for the first time, officially recognized. It’s worth mentioning the importance of the UKUSA deal and the subsequent Five Eyes for the Special Relationship. It helped create the basis for a more effective partnership between the U.K. and the United States during the Cold War period, building mutual trust and strengthening the links between the two countries. In simple words, the Agreement enhanced the Special Relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States.
The co-operation was vital for both the countries during the Cold War, for the United Kingdom, an example was the Five Eyes role in providing complementary intelligence for the surveillance of Soviet submarines with ballistic missiles in the North Atlantic and the North Sea, and for the United States, it relied on long-established British listening posts in regions that were part of Britain’s empire for signals of intelligence, especially in the Middle East. The role Five Eyes is currently playing has many advantages, such as the ‘maritime domain’ where the group reviews shipping traffic passing through strategic maritime areas and the ‘aerospace domain,’ covering ballistic missile tests, foreign satellite deployments, and military activities of relevant air forces.
Furthermore, it is a fact that each country of the alliance is responsible for intelligence gathering and surveillance of different regions of the world. The U.K. oversees much of Europe, Western Russia, the Middle East, and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the United States also has eyes upon the Middle East and China, Russia, vast Africa, and the Caribbean. Australia is responsible for overseeing South and East Asia and New Zealand for the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Canada has under its eyes the interior of Russia and China and major parts of Latin America. The member states work mainly together, and the ‘final product’ is mainly a result of more than one of its members; helping each other is a crucial part of this alliance.
Terrorist setups and weapons deals made by ‘rival regimes’ are also within the scope of the Five Eyes; these two, specifically, are growing sources of worries for all the five member states, and the intelligence collaboration between them is necessary to keep their governments updated with the fresh developments. This helps the process of policy-making, as the data collected and studied by the alliance may come out to be vital for more than a time of crises but also for the daily engagements of government; notably, these daily efforts help in tracking and noticing possible sources of terrorism and other non-conventional threats. Over seventy years later, the Five Eyes is being regarded as the finest of intelligence alliances. Its scope enhances accordingly with the new advancements and the changing security concerns arising from those new technologies; thereby, the Eyes understand that the digital world must not be underestimated; the rivals of the United Kingdom and the United States understand that as well, as the number of cyberattacks grows unceasingly.