Since the leaking of classified documents from the National Security Agency (NSA), many people have been wary about where their documents are stored and what they contain. So with this new need for heightened security, Google has begun experimenting with encrypting Google Drive files. This new security measure could curb attempts by the US and other governments from gaining access to personal documents and files.
Normally, major Web companies use encryption to protect users' communications while they are being transmitted, yet not when files are being stored in the cloud. This new security measure would secure all of your data, including files in the cloud. Because of this, Google would not have the access key to release your personal files. This may seem fine and dandy, but even with a search warrant from Police, or if the NSA submitted a legal order under the Foreign Intelligence Service Act, Google would not be able to divulge contents of stored data. This could be potentially dangerous since criminals can then start saving their incriminating files online, without worry of ever being discovered.
I see this security measure as a double-edged sword. On one hand, I don't want anyone going through my personal files just because they are unencrypted. On the other hand, I could see how this could be a recipe for trouble if the Police were unable to get ahold of criminal files that could be important to a case. The only way for Officers, or Agents, to get ahold of the information in the encrypted files is if they were granted a wiretap order which would force Google to intercept and divulge a user's passphrase. This could still be difficult since Google is known for their aggressive litigation in order to protect users' privacy.
All in all, I think what Google is doing to protect their clients' privacy is great. This encryption feature is still in the testing stage, and is not yet available to Google users. The launch date for this service has not been released either.
To read more about Google Drive encryption, click here.