Concerning Apps – Amazon’s Encrypted Messaging Service: Wickr Me

Concerning Apps –

Amazon’s Encrypted Messaging Service: Wickr Me

A Hub of Abuse Material:
More and more often, apps are utilizing end-to-end encryption that makes illegal activity like the exchange of Child Sexual Abuse Material hard to monitor, report, and prosecute. One of the larger apps known to be hub of CSAM is Wickr Me (usually just referred to as Wickr), which began in 2015 and was bought by Amazon in 2021.

There is no good reason for a kid – and rarely for an adult – to communicate using Wickr. Because it is a closed communication system, people generally exchange Wickr usernames in more public online settings before moving to communicating privately in Wickr. This move from public setting (games, Youtube comments, a subreddit thread) to private settings (Kik, Telegram, Wickr) is a key step in the sequence of manipulation and child sexual abuse that plays out online.

Settings and Blocking Access:
There are no safety settings within Wickr, and no way for a parent to monitor any activity. Wickr is an app that, if a kid is using it, warrants a serious discussion about why, what they are doing and finding valuable, and if their usage *is* appropriate, other apps and ways they might fill those needs (like WhatsApp).

Because Wickr is listed in the Google Playstore as “E for Everyone,” and in the Apple App Store as “12+,” age settings on devices are insufficient to block access. Parents wanting to prevent Wickr need to use parental settings to blacklist the app individually. Check out our Guidesheet for more info and links to step-by-step guides.

Privacy and Safety:
While apps like WhatsApp are also encrypted, many require identifying information when starting an account, whereas Wickr does not and creates an anonymous environment more conducive to criminal behavior. And while there is valid tension between maintaining digital privacy and ensuring child protection, WhatsApp greatly increased their reports of child abuse material when they began to monitor for non-encrypted signs of child abuse, such as usernames and profile photos. So far, Wickr seems disinclined to take proactive steps in child safety, despite the web having thousands and thousands of coded referenced to child sexual abuse material paired with Wickr usernames, appearing in places like Tumblr, Reddit, and Twitter.

The Online Safety Toolkit: iPhone’s New Safety Check Feature

The Online Safety Toolkit:

iPhone’s New Safety Check Feature

Broadly speaking, Safety Check has two main uses: Emergency Reset and Managing Sharing and Access. We’ll explain both:

When to Consider an Emergency Reset:

Emergency Reset refers only to privacy and security, it is not a reset of your phone or general settings.

If someone (child or adult) is in danger or at risk of harm from someone who they have shared data like location services, iPhotos, calendars, or contacts, with, an Emergency Reset cuts those virtual ties so that the other person can no longer access those shared items. It is important to note that someone will be aware if their access has been removed. Emergency Reset will also allow you to review and edit your Apple ID if there is concern that someone could still access the account directly.

For teens, this feature may be relevant if there has been a falling out with a friend or significant other and there are concerns about what that person might do with shared photos or knowledge of someone’s location.

To Do an Emergency Reset:

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Safety Check.
  • Tap Emergency Reset, then follow the onscreen instructions.
    Progress is saved as you go.

To read more about Emergency Reset: https://support.apple.com/guide/personal-safety/stop-sharing-with-people-and-apps-ips16ea6f2fe/1.0/web/1.0#ips671ae37be

For a full list of apps and information that can be unshared using Safety Check: https://support.apple.com/guide/personal-safety/how-safety-check-works-ips2aad835e1/1.0/web/1.0

When to Consider a Safety Check:

When you want to review shared data settings in more detail, use Manage Sharing & Access to review and reset information you’re sharing with people, review and reset the information that apps have access to, and update your device and Apple ID security.

  • Go to Settings > Privacy & Security > Safety Check.
  • Tap Manage Sharing & Access.
    Progress is saved as you go.
  • Do one of the following to stop sharing information with other people:
    • Tap People, select people in the list, review the information shared with people, then decide which information you want to stop sharing with selected people.
    • Tap Information, select apps in the list, review the information shared with people, then decide which information you want to stop sharing with selected people.
  • Do one of the following to stop sharing information with other apps:
    • Tap Apps, select apps in the list, review the information shared with them, then decide which information you want to stop sharing with the selected apps.
    • Tap Information, select the information being shared in the list, review the information shared with apps, then decide which information you want to stop sharing with the selected apps.
  • Tap Continue, then do any of the following:
    • Review and remove devices signed into your account.
    • Review and update trusted phone numbers.
    • Change your Apple ID password.
    • Update your emergency contacts.
    • Update your device passcode, or your Face ID or Touch ID information.
  • Click Done.

When you’ve finished, make sure you stopped certain sharing and reset specific settings. See Verify you’ve stopped sharing.

Full page guide: https://support.apple.com/guide/personal-safety/stop-sharing-with-people-and-apps-ips16ea6f2fe/1.0/web/1.0#ips54d90c122

Abuse via Instagram: The Jenkins Family’s Experience

Abuse via Instagram:

The Jenkins Family’s Experience

In this important 6.5 minute video, the Jenkins’ family share their experience of manipulation and child sexual abuse carried out via Instagram on their daughter’s tablet.

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