With growing international outcry about NSA surveillance of anything and everything on the entire planet, there is growing interest among US allies about “no spy” agreements. They are confirmed to exist, and French President Francois Hollande made clear he’d like to get in on that.
President Obama, ever ready with a flat out lie about the NSA, insisted to Hollande that there is no such thing as a “no-spy agreement” with the United States, capping it off with a condescending statement about how much he likes Britain and France and wouldn’t be able to choose between them.
The agreement in question, the UKUSA agreement, also dubbed the Five Eyes Agreement, is a pledge from all five English language speaking nations to engage in mutual surveillance of the rest of the planet and not spy on each other except with explicit permission.
The idea at the time (the document is from the dawn of the Cold War) was to circumvent domestic surveillance limitations by having one another carry out that spying as foreign operations. In the era of total information awareness and the US wanting to spy on anyone and everyone, its only real value is that the cooperation limits the US ability to target the other four members.