Intelligence agencies from the CIA to MI6 are practiced in the arts of deception and denial. No one trusts anyone. That tradecraft is useful when you’re outwitting the enemy. But how do you engage in honest exchanges of information with friends?

A solution to this conundrum is called the “Five Eyes.” This term refers to the intelligence agencies of five close allies who share a language and cultural history and have long cooperated in intelligence sharing. The Five Eyes are the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

While each of the Five Eyes has their own history and unique tools, they all evolved along the lines created by the U.K.’s MI6 international intelligence service. This shared tradecraft includes officers who recruit and handle spies (called “secret agents” or “case officers”), the use of front organizations (called “cutouts”), the use of disguises, and a network of safe houses.

The 21st-century version includes spy satellites, listening devices and message traffic intercepts. Intelligence agencies worry about sharing information because it can reveal sources and methods, or it could fall into the hands of moles in the agencies with whom it is shared.

The Five Eyes have the highest level of trust and therefore share information and plans more freely. The latest operation of the Five Eyes involves the destruction of Huawei, which is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer and one of the largest companies in China.

Huawei has implanted bugs and back doors in its smartphones to capture message traffic and relay it to Chinese intelligence. Huawei is now making a play as a supplier to the most important 5G networks in the world. As shown in this article, the Five Eyes and their host governments are determined to stop Huawei in its tracks.

Huawei has been barred from making acquisitions of tech companies in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand and is being banned from contracting on government telecoms systems. Other allies including Japan are joining the effort to bar Huawei from all 5G networks. Canada recently arrested the CFO of Huawei pursuant to a U.S. arrest warrant, a good example of Five Eyes cooperation.

This attack on Huawei is just getting started. Huawei is beginning to feel the scrutiny of the Five Eyes.

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