Five Eyes security rift over Huawei
July 5, 2019 -- The U.S. has threatened to cut off intelligence sharing between the so-called Five Eyes unless its members ban 5G equipment from Huawei, fearing it could be a vehicle for Chinese spy operations.
The Five Eyes name refers to the security classification of intelligence documents: “SECRET – AUS/CAN/N.Z./U.K./U.S. EYES ONLY” or “FVEY.”
It began in 1946 when the United States and the United Kingdom agreed to an open exchange of intelligence on the communications of foreign nations. It was expanded when Canada joined the alliance in 1948, followed by Australia and New Zealand in 1956.
Five Eyes allowed the national agencies to share monitoring infrastructure, and to track nuclear-armed Soviet submarines during the Cold War. The surveillance partnership strengthened following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, and monitoring of internet communications has since expanded exponentially.
Whistle-blower Edward Snowden brought renewed focus to the Five Eyes in 2013 -- most of Snowden’s vast dump of classified U.S. National Security Agency data was marked “FVEY,” making it available to other Five Eyes members.
In February 2019, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Five Eyes members that the U.S. would not share information with them if they included Huawei in their “critical information systems.” In May -- the same month that President Trump used a national security order to ban Huawei -- Pompeo warned London specifically over excluding Huawei from its 5G network.
Australia and New Zealand have already taken steps to restrict Huawei’s access, making Pompeo’s warning -- 5G or Five Eyes-- aimed squarely at Britain and Canada.