Neowin has been contacted by Google Global Communications Officer, Jay Nancarrow, who said in a follow up to this story posted two weeks ago: "I wanted to reach out to let you know that we have not made any changes to make encrypted search a default option. It remains an optional feature for those who want to take advantage of tools to help them better protect their information."
Instead, it's highly likely that users who appeared to get a default encrypted search option, probably got it through auto-complete.
Currently, Google only offers web searches over SSL, other search products like Google Images and Google Maps are not available over SSL. When you're searching over SSL, these properties may not appear in the left panel.
The news came after a discussion started in our forums that the Google Chrome browser had appeared to start using https://encrypted.google.com as default, instead of the unencrypted http://www.google.com site.
Google has posted a document explaining the feature, "With Google search over SSL, you can have an end-to-end encrypted search solution between your computer and Google. This secured channel helps protect your search terms and your search results pages from being intercepted by a third party. This provides you with a more secure and private search experience."
In any case, the option is a welcome one for users worried about their wireless data being tapped.