The UKUSA Agreement is an agreement between the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand (the Five (5) Eyes) to cooperatively collect, analyze, and share intelligence focusing on gathering and analyzing intelligence from different parts of the world. Though the Five (5) Eyes have agreed not to spy on each other as adversaries, leaks by Snowden have revealed that some Five (5) Eyes members monitor each other’s citizens and share intelligence to avoid breaking domestic laws that prohibit them from spying on their own citizens. The Five (5) Eyes alliance also cooperates with groups of third party countries to share intelligence (forming the Nine (9) Eyes and Fourteen (14) Eyes), however Five (5) Eyes and third party countries can and do spy on each other.
Services based in the United States or any of the other Five (5) Eyes countries are not recommended because of the country’s surveillance programs.
For example, the United States can use National Security Letters (NSLs) and accompanying gag orders — which forbid the recipient from talking about the request — to secretly force companies to:
And worst of all, if the service shuts down, it’s in violation of the order.
An example of this is Lavabit – a discontinued secure email service created by Ladar Levison. The FBI requested Snowden’s records after finding out that he used the service. Since Lavabit did not keep logs and email content was stored encrypted, the FBI served a subpoena (with a gag order) for the service’s SSL keys. Having the SSL keys would allow them to access communications (both metadata and unencrypted content) in real time for all of Lavabit’s customers, not just Snowden’s. Ultimately, Levison turned over the SSL keys and shut down the service at the same time. The US government then threatened Levison with arrest, saying that shutting down the service was a violation of the court order. Read more…
Because you can’t talk about the order or shut down your service, some companies implement a Warrant canary. However, Warrant canaries have already been outlawed in Australia and their legality and effectiveness in other countries are doubted.