“Why did you lock the door to your house? Do you have something to hide? The fact that you locked it is probable cause for a search.”
“Hey, this envelope was sealed before it was dropped into the mailbox. There must be something suspicious about it. Let’s take a look.”
So, yeah, the mere fact that electronic communication is encrypted is apparently adequately suspicious to warrant an the NSA unencrypting it and taking a look at the contents. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a big surprise to anyone, but that doesn’t make the justification any less specious.
Fortunately, there’s a cultural fix for this. Just like a single locked door in a city without locks would raise eyebrows, a single encrypted message gets put aside for investigation. But, if every message were encrypted (really encrypted, don’t give me that SSL nonsense), then you’ve changed the game.
Continuing with what is going to be an extremely strained analogy, one of the reasons that strong encryption isn’t widespread is that it’s perceived and clunky for the users. If it were as easy as, say, turning the key on your front door when you leave the house, you’d have a much higher adoption rate.
Call me cynical, but I’m not holding my breath for the government or the established industry players to come up with a solution. I’m not sure exactly what the solution will be, but we can probably guess the shape of it. It will be open source, it perform the encryption operations on your device, and it will be trivially difficult for the non-technical end user. It will operate in the same fashion on all platforms, and different flavors implemented by different developers will work together without kludgy workarounds.
This needs to happen. Locking up your communications needs to be as automatic and effortless as locking up your house. Once encryption is universally adopted, encrypted communication is no longer a prima fascie indicator of suspicious activity.
And, as for the “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear” canard, I’ll just point out that the United States government obviously doesn’t believe it. I’m not the first one to point this out, but still…it bears repeating. If the TPP is so friggin’ great, why aren’t its contents public?It’s because the government believes that privacy is a privilege, not a right. We need to prove them wrong.