I'm also quite irritated at the public lack-of-acceptance of encryption technology. In the wake of my government recently declaring that it's increasing the powers of various government departments to monitor electronic communications and break into people's systems, I wrote a very dumbed down reply to a letter in the local paper. (As yet unpublished, but hopefully it's in the queue.) There's the physical barrier that most people can't psychologically get their head around. If they press the send button and it arrives instantanously, it must have been impossible for anyone to see something going that fast.
Basically I focused on one of my favourite metaphors of email being like postcards, and encryption being like an envelope. Then on how easy it is for someone in the right place to simply scan traffic from millions of people passing through and search for keywords, and either use that information themselves or sell it to the highest bidder.
The vast majority of people live on the assumption that anything they say isn't of any real interest to others. (Who wants to hear about the weather, anyway?) What a lot of people don't realise is that in day-to-day discussion they're probably alluding to how much money they have, when they're going on holiday, and all sorts of realistically sensitive information.
In the real world this information would be hard to collate because it's geographically diverse, but on the net huge chunks of it are likely to go through a single router in any given hour. Search for obvious keywords, and cross-reference it with other keywords and before long you could have a reasonably accurate list of rich people on holiday from a given suburb.
In the wrong hands this information (which is only an example) can be used for anything from targetting unwanted marketing, to breaking into people's homes.
The main argument that seems to come up against what I've just said is that technology isn't that great, probably nobody's done it before so why would they in the future, or that typical house-breaking-into criminals probably don't have the resources to monitor Internet traffic. All I can really say to this is that they're probably partly wrong as it is, information can be sold, and the Internet and computers are expanding so exponentially fast that in a few years it will be much more feasible.
I think it's very unfortunate that people using encryption are so often labeled as having something to hide. I can almost never encrypt my email because nobody I know has anything set up. I usually sign it or at least but a sig on (pointing to my public key), just to set an example. The ironic thing is that the one time I was able to send and receive a PGP-encrypted email, it got really irritating typing in my 29 character pass-phrase three times in 5 minutes as I kept reopening the message to check things. Luckily that's a minor thing that can be fixed, though. :)
jesterzog Fight the light