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Amazon-operated Wickr is shutting down its free encrypted messaging app.

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Secure communications company Wickr has announced that it will close its encrypted messaging app for free, Wickr Me, next year.

Wickr was established in 2011 and was among the first popular encryption-based messaging applications that worked from end to end before it was bought by Amazon’s cloud-based services firm Amazon Web Services, in 2021.

In an article published the previous day, Amazon announced that the app Wickr Me will be shut down permanently on December 31, 2023. In addition, Amazon states that the app will cease accepting new user registrations. It will then be discontinued completely in the year following.

The shutdown is only affecting the version for consumers of Wickr that has grown well-known among whistleblowers and journalists who want to send encrypted end-to-end or self-destructing encryption messages. Other Wickr products, targeted at military and government agencies and businesses, won’t be affected.

“After careful consideration, we will be examining Wickr’s focus on securing our customers’ information with AWS Wickr and Wickr Enterprise, and have chosen to discontinue our product, Wickr Me,” Amazon announced it added that it was working to allow Wickr customers to communicate securely with other people outside their company.

The shutdown announcement comes in the wake of reports that the company’s no-cost messaging app has permitted criminals to trade images of sexual abuse of children. On June 1, in citing court documents, law enforcement officials and activists, NBC News claimed that Amazon did “little” to address the issue proactively.

Wickr’s supporters, including the CIA and the controversial privately-owned security business Blackwater, have also become a haven for drug dealers relegated to the dark web following the closing of the notorious illicit market for goods like Silk Road, according to reports.

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