While I use several privacy and security add-ons in my Firefox web browser, I don't encrypt my emails in Thunderbird. To be perfectly frank, the reason I have not utilized encryption to date is that I don't understand it very well, though I've been reading up on it lately. Recently, I learned something that blows my mind. One of the triggers the NSA uses to decide whether or not an individual's email should be retained for further investigation is if the email messages themselves are encrypted. (Ooh, it's "legal" because the FISA Court says so!)
Think about that for a moment. The very act of attempting to protect your privacy from being intercepted by third parties and/or hackers is now a reason for suspicion by government-contracted spies!
What are you hiding?
Well, maybe I don't want to take the chance that someone might copy my credit card, bank account or social security number. Maybe I'm sharing some personal information about myself that I don't want unscrupulous individuals to exploit. Maybe it's nothing more than a private message that I don't want broadcast all over the internet. There are oodles of legitimate reasons I might want to encrypt the emails I send.
But in today's big dragnet world, legitimate reasons don't matter. The moment you encrypt something, you are drawing a large target on your back.
It would seem we must now pick between two poisons. Either we can choose to encrypt our email communiques which will provide the NSA with a "legal" reason to add our names to the list of "suspected terrorists" OR we can choose not to encrypt our emails and open ourselves up to be easier prey for third party intercepts and hackers.