Tech

Amazon is under fire for claims its encrypted chat app Wickr is inundated with child abuse images

AMAZON’s encrypted chat app, Wickr, is rife with images of child sexual abuse and little is being done to address it, experts claim.

Criminals are using Wickr Me, an Amazon-owned messaging app, to seamlessly exploit and abuse children, according to a new report from NBC.

Amazon's encrypted chat app, Wickr, is rife with images of child sexual abuse and little is being done to address it, experts claim.

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Amazon’s encrypted chat app, Wickr, is rife with images of child sexual abuse and little is being done to address it, experts claim.Credit: Alamy

For its investigation, NBC consulted court records, online threads, and police reports, and spoke with law enforcement and anti-exploitation activists.

Evidence of these crimes against children on Wickr, NBC said, is scattered across the internet and dark web.

People have linked their Wickr account handles on Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter threads to promote and share this illegal material.

While Wickr isn’t the only platform used to distribute this type of content, Amazon appears to be doing relatively little to address and prevent the problem, experts say.

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“Wickr needs to do more to prevent child sexual abuse material from being trafficked on its platform and take steps to identify it,” said John Shehan, vice president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Under US law, online communication services are required to report known or discovered child sexual abuse content to NCMEC.

And although several experts say that there is clearly a prominent community on Wickr dedicated to trading such material, the company itself has only reported 15 cases of child sexual abuse imagery.

Other messaging apps like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, all owned by parent company Meta, use algorithms to scan unencrypted text and media for signs of child sexual abuse images.

In 2021, Meta tagged millions of dollars in content and reported it to NCMEC – Facebook generated 22,118,952 reports, Instagram generated 3,393,654 reports and WhatsApp generated 1,372,696 reports.

“That’s very clear [Wickr is] do not make their own proactive efforts to identify this type of activity,” Shehan said.

A spokesman for Amazon Web Services said in a statement that the company is “committed to preventing child sexual abuse material (CSAM) in every segment of our business, including Wickr.”

They added that Wickr “enforces strict Terms of Service that clearly prohibit illegal activity.”

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“We respond quickly to reports of illegal conduct, promptly respond to law enforcement requests and take appropriate action.”

The Sun has reached out to Amazon for comment but has not heard back at the time of publication.

https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5535251/amazon-chat-app-wickr-child-abuse-images/ Amazon is under fire for claims its encrypted chat app Wickr is inundated with child abuse images

Chris Barrese

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