Although it received very little publicity, the US Senate this week failed to pass the legislation to enact changes to the modus operandi of the NSA, limited though they were. In any case, there is abundant evidence that they will collect all of our personal data anyway, regardless of what we might think they have the authority to do. Which means protection is in the hands of the individual and those websites and services they interact with.
The situation is well described in this article by Glenn Greenwald and this one by Tyler Durden. As one wag pointed out, the vote was a vote for encryption by default on the Internet. In my view, it’s a good thing because it will have a few more people recognise that their protection on the Internet is their own responsibility and the ways of doing it are getting easier by the day.
Which is why the “Let’s Encrypt” initiative is so exciting. Available from Q2 2015, this initiative makes free, easy to use HTTPS encryption available to any website that wants to use it. Thank you, Ed Snowden and those who worked on creating this service.