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Google amps up HTTPS Gmail protections to combat NSA spying

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Google is fighting back against NSA spying. Today, Google announced that it will ensure that the Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) system is always in place, all the time.

Previously, HTTPS, which protects and encrypts all of your info and messages going in and out of Gmail, could be disabled on Gmail, but that is no longer the case. Google announced that this encryption will always be on, so that Gmail users' data is always safe.

In a blog post, Google revealed that Gmail had 99.978 percent uptime in 2013, which is nearly perfect. Still, Google wants to do even better and ensure that there is virtually no downtime whatsoever, during which the NSA could creep in to look at your communications.

"Your email is important to you, and making sure it stays safe and always available is important to us," Nicolas Lidzborski, Gmail Security Engineering Lead, wrote in a blog post. "As you go about your day reading, writing, and checking messages, there are tons of security measures running behind the scenes to keep your email safe, secure, and there whenever you need it."

Lidzborski added that encryption is important and ensured Gmail users that their security is of the utmost importance to Google.

"Starting today, Gmail will always use an encrypted HTTPS connection when you check or send email," wrote Lidzborski, adding that, "Today's change means that no one can listen in on your messages as they go back and forth between you and Gmail's servers-no matter if you're using public Wi-Fi or logging in from your computer, phone or tablet."

This must be music to Edward Snowden's ears. The NSA whistle-blower advocated heavily for encryption during his ground-breaking talk at SXSW earlier this month. Snowden stated that although encryption is not perfect by any means, it is a very useful tool to use against the NSA. Snowden added that if all the major tech companies made encryption the default, then it would be a lot harder and less cost-effective for the NSA to continue its mass surveillance programs at their current scale.

Google is among the first to take action with this new push to improve encryption for Gmail users. It will be interesting to see who follows in Google's footsteps. It's no secret that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is infuriated by continuing government surveillance, but so far he hasn't taken a huge step to combat the agency's tactics.

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