According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, the US court that oversees the FISA-based activities, also known as the FISA Court, has given the NSA the ability to effectively spy on any country that isn’t part of the Five Eyes alliance. The countries included in the Five Eyes alliance are all English-speaking powers that are England or former English colonies. These include, The UK (who has GCHQ), Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The US is also part of the Five Eyes alliance, which is the fifth member of this English-speaking alliance. And due to agreements signed by these five countries, they have all agreed to not spy on each other. They also have various information sharing agreements among each other in order to cement these relationships legally.

What does this mean, exactly? It means that the NSA’s scope is virtually unlimited and incredibly broad and they realistically are not going to be able to filter out the citizens of 5 countries out of the hundreds they spy on every day. The court that granted the NSA these rights clearly did not give the NSA a tight enough scope within who and why they could spy. The NSA is merely spying for the sake of spying, meaning that they will continue to grow in size and scope until they have a definite mission. When a government-funded organization such as the NSA is allowed to spy as freely as they do, they’re effectively going to do everything within their power to increase their scope, which ultimately increases their power and even more importantly, their funding. After all, they did build a $1.5 billion facility in Utah to warehouse all that unnecessary surveillance.

Five Eyes

A coalition of grassroots groups from across the political spectrum joined forces to fly an airship over the NSA’s data center in Bluffdale, Utah on Friday, June 27, 2014, to protest the government’s illegal mass surveillance program. The environmental group Greenpeace flew its 135′ long thermal airship over the data center carrying the message “NSA Illegal Spying Below”. Photo by Greenpeace

When you take into account that many of the countries in the Five Eyes alliance have already collaborated on multiple spying operations and shared that data, it comes as little surprise that the NSA is involved in such activities. These activities include the NSA cooperating with Canada to spy on diplomats and leaders in the G8 and G20 summits in Canada and the GCHQ spying on the diplomats and leaders in London at a G20 summit as well. Ultimately, even if we reduce the scope of what the NSA can do, they will merely work with their Five Eyes partners to achieve similar goals if necessary, which means that the courts (or congress) need to strictly set the goals of the NSA as opposed to the general goal of ‘national security’ and ‘terrorism’.