Amazon will deprive the general public of one of the most secure messaging apps

Amazon is reviewing its strategy for Wickr. This messaging application will now be reserved for the administration and professionals. The general public will no longer be entitled to it.

It was in June 2021. Amazon announced the acquisition of Wickr, a messaging application with end-to-end encryption to guarantee the integrity and confidentiality of messages between Internet users. Like WhatsApp or Signal, in short. At the time, this new acquisition left open the question of Amazon’s strategy in messaging.

A little over a year later, we now have the answer: individuals will no longer be able to use Wickr. Amazon has decided to close the consumer version, to focus only on the sections dedicated to professionals and administrations. This reversal was indicated on November 18 on the service’s official blog.

No more registrations at the end of 2022, no more apps at the end of 2023

This shutdown will be done in two stages: from December 31, 2022, it will no longer be possible to register on Wickr Me. Then, one year later, on December 31, 2023, the service will be stopped. In the meantime, the application promises that it will deliver everything necessary for Internet users to know how to recover their data.

Wickr’s refocusing on the public sector is arguably no stranger to converging trajectories between enforcement and law enforcement. Besides, Wickr claims to bethe only secure collaboration platform that exceeds all NSA recommendations and provides the data retention and compliance required by every government agency. »

Wickr Me
The Wickr Me interface. // Source: Wickr

four months later the announcement of the purchase of Wickr by Amazon made by Stephen Schmidt, vice president and head of information security for AWS (and incidentally former bureau chief at the FBI) ​​we learned the $1.6 million investment in Wickr by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s investment fund. These funds had been sent before Amazon arrived.

Amazon has given no explanation for the shutdown of Wickr Me. The revelations made this summer by NBC News may have weighed in the balance and precipitated the decision to no longer offer Wickr to anyone. Indeed, the American newspaper reported that the application was used as a vector to propagate child pornography content.

The article then pointed to Amazon’s insufficient measures to prevent the sharing of these files – a complicated fight when it comes to an application that has end-to-end encryption, since the content of the messages is inaccessible for third. Additionally, Wickr allows ephemeral messages, removes metadata about media, and does not require a phone number to link.

Nothing says that this is why Amazon is giving up Wickr Me. The seriousness of the facts reported by NBC News would, however, constitute a valid justification for putting a stop to the general public offer, which is the one used to this kind of sharing. By stopping everything, Amazon saves itself a gas factory seeking to reconcile repression of child pornography and guarantee of end-to-end encryption.

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