Wickr Me, the free encrypted messaging app, is scheduled to shut down on December 31, 2023 and stop accepting new user registrations on December 31, 2022, Wickr said in a blog post.(Opens in a new window).
The platform was acquired(Opens in a new window) by Amazon Web Services in June 2021, and it offers secure end-to-end encrypted messaging, including text, photos, videos, and attachments on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices.
The company added that it would focus on securing “the data and communications of our commercial and public sector customers” with its paid non-consumer AWS Wickr and Wickr Enterprise platforms instead.
Wickr’s high-strength encryption, which the company says would “take trillions of years(Opens in a new window)” to crack made him popular with all the Departments of Defense(Opens in a new window) agencies, as well as journalists and whistleblowers. Before being bought by Amazon last year, the firm had benefited from an investment of 1.6 million dollars(Opens in a new window) of Q-Tel, a funding arm of the CIA, and according to VICE had signed a $900,000 contract with US Customs and Border Protection.
But the app has come under scrutiny for not doing enough to crack down on the sharing of child sex abuse images: In June, NBC News reported(Opens in a new window) that Wickr Me had become a “go-to destination” for such content. Wickr has also been used as a tool by dark net drug traffickers(Opens in a new window).
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In its shutdown announcement post, the company said it was working to enable enterprises and public sector customers to communicate with individual users outside of their network on AWS Wickr. Wickr added that it will provide more information in the coming months about what actions current Wickr Me customers can take to safeguard their data.
WhatsApp remains the largest free secure messaging app on the planet, but Signal and Telegram are other popular alternatives. Last month, Signal announced that it would be removing support(Opens in a new window) for unencrypted text messages in its Android app, and said it was testing an Instagram-esque Stories feature.
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