Google is considering giving more prominent search rankings to websites that use encryption, in a move that could compel sites across the web to begin locking down the information sent to and from their servers, according to The Wall Street Journal. The idea appears to be highly tentative at the moment, but the Journal reports that Google's web spam chief, Matt Cutts, hinted at the possibility during a recent conference and is said to have discussed it within the company as well. If the decision is made to go ahead with the plan, a change reportedly won't happen any time soon.

Such a decision may be focused more on enacting change across the web than simply improving search results. It's likely too that these discussions would not be occurring were it not for continued reports of government surveillance —primarily from the United States' National Security Agency — that has exposed many companies' and consumers' private data. As we've seen recently, encryption doesn't always lead to bulletproof privacy, but it would still have a big impact on protecting communications.