People used to assume that the United States government was held in check by the constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and which demands due process in criminal investigations, but such illusions have evaporated in recent years.
It turns out that the NSA considers itself above the law in every respect and feels entitled to spy on anyone anywhere in the world without warrants, and without any real oversight.
Whether petitions and protests will have any real impact on how the U.S. government operates is questionable, however some very smart people have decided not to wait around and find out. Instead they're focusing on making the NSA's job impossible. In the process they may fundamentally alter the way the internet operates.
Rather than grovel and beg for the U.S. government to respect our privacy, these innovators have taken matters into their own hands, and their work may change the playing field completely.