I’m not going to debate whether or not it’s good for the NSA to be tapping all of our communications. There are plenty of talking heads screaming at each other already. What I’m here to say is: DUH.
When the news broke about all this wiretapping stuff, I thought, “Don’t we know this already?” I guess not, but it should be assumed. And even if the NSA wasn’t doing it in what they claim is an attempt to protect you, Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others are doing it all the time to serve you ads. Forget the NSA, everything you do online is already stored in huge databases whether it’s your ISP, companies following you around the web serving you ads, or the end service that you’re using. Most of your traffic flies around the internet in plain text and is trivial to read/store. It’s not just on the internet either. Stores are tracking you as you walk around based on the signals emanating from your cell phone. And when you’re outside, companies have huge databases full of your location at all times of the day based on which cell phone towers you’re connected to. This isn’t conspiracy theory stuff. It’s very simple technology that’s already widely used.
We should make sure all of these companies and organizations are following our current laws, but more importantly we all need to take it upon ourselves to be smart about what we do and how we store our data. If it’s important and it’s not encrypted, then you’re basically screaming it through a megaphone on a busy street corner.
Your data security is your own responsibility. If it’s important, then it’s important enough to encrypt. And if you don’t want to encrypt, don’t send anything over the network that you don’t want the world to read.