The Privacy War Continues with Formation of “Five Eyes”

Not only is this battle refusing to die, but now it’s just been made much larger. It started between the FBI and Apple over one solitary iPhone, and now it’s progressed to the intelligence in several countries and is including several tech companies. The intelligence community, naming themselves “Five Eyes,” wants to forge an agreement that “privacy is not absolute.”

The Battle

We hold a lot in our phones. They are often our main mode of communication. They hold the records of everyone we have had phone contact with, hold our voicemail messages, include records of all our text messages through various apps, hold all our emails, our social media accounts, photos of the important places we’ve been and the important people in our families, etc.

This makes them tools that the police or other investigators want to get their hands on. They could tell a lot in the case of a crime, such as if we were planning a massacre and if we were working with an organization or acting alone.

But tech companies feel an allegiance to us, their customers. They sold us on privacy and security. How can they go back on that? As soon as they do that, just one time of allowing the authorities to search our phones, the precedent has been set.


Additionally, many times it’s just not possible to provide that backdoor the authorities are searching for without significant changes to hardware and/or software.

But that doesn’t stop the authorities from wanting it.

The Ultimatum

Now this has grown from a fight within the U.S. to being more worldwide. The intelligence communities of the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand met in Australia recently to discuss cybersecurity, national security and digital terrorism. These intelligence communities that gathered together called themselves the “Five Eyes.”

Together they released joint statements, including the “Statement of Principles on Access to Evidence and Encryption.”

This iterated the message “privacy is not absolute.” It also stated that governments and tech companies have a “mutual responsibility to ensure there is access to “lawfully obtained data.”


“Providers of information and communications technology and services – carriers, device manufacturers, or over-the-top service providers – are subject to the law,” continued the statement, “which can include requirements to assist authorities to lawfully access data, including the content of communications.”

It’s apparent that the Five Eyes feel entitled to what they can glean from our phones when there is an investigation at play. And now they want tech companies to guarantee them access to phones if they request it. This isn’t going to sit well with people.

They do, at least, realize it’s not going to be a cakewalk for them to get this help. “Currently there are some challenges arising from the increasing use and sophistication of encryption technology in relation to which further assistance is needed.”

This is going to affect both hardware and software companies, and any that go against the rule stand to pay heavily, with the Five Eyes promising they “may pursue technological, enforcement, legislative, or other measures to achieve lawful access solutions.”

Losing Security to Protect Safety

All this leads to questions of what we’re sacrificing to have that safety. While they say this is “to aid the protection of the citizens of our countries,” it’s hurting them as well, as their data will now be stored on devices with backdoors that makes them just that much easier to hack into.

How do you feel about this? Do you think the Five Eyes are right in what they are insisting the tech world do to help them? Let us know how you feel about this in the comments section below.

Laura Tucker Laura Tucker

Laura has spent nearly 20 years writing news, reviews, and op-eds, with more than 10 of those years as an editor as well. She has exclusively used Apple products for the past three decades. In addition to writing and editing at MTE, she also runs the site's sponsored review program.


  1. “The intelligence community, naming themselves “Five Eyes,” wants to forge an agreement that “privacy is not absolute.””
    Since they feel that “privacy is not absolute” will they allow us, the common users, access to their data files? Why should “privacy is not absolute” go only one way?

    “It’s apparent that the Five Eyes feel entitled to what they can glean from our phones when there is an investigation at play.”
    Do they also feel entitled to any data that can be gleaned from anything that Cortana, Siri and Echo happen to overhear? Will they also feel entitled to hear any conversations people have in the privacy of their own homes? After all, terrorists can make their nefarious plans in face to face conversations. Will the Five Eyes mandate that audio-visual cameras be placed in every room of every abode in the name of “national security” and “fighting terrorism”?

    “Do you think the Five Eyes are right in what they are insisting the tech world do to help them?”
    Definitely not. Five Eyes are just looking to acquire a lot of our private data without much effort and with someone else (tech companies) doing the dirty work. One major fact that Five Eyes are ignoring in their greed for all this new data that they expect to fall into their laps, either because they don’t give damn about it or because of their stupidity, is that there is no way in hell, or on Earth, to limit backdoor access only to “authorized” entities. As soon as the backdoors are implemented, EVERYBODY, including hackers, extortionists and terrorists, will have the same access to that data.

  2. Definitely NOT.
    Once I agree to give up a liberty, the Government will never give it back .
    The 5 Eyes want a legal way to apply evidence again a felon/murderer/terrorist/enterlabelhere.
    I suspect they already can see the evidence, but they simply can’t use it in a court of law.
    Sorry but privacy is indeed absolute until you give it away.

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