Have you ever sent someone a social security number, checking account information or credit card number via text message? Or perhaps you’ve sent a nasty email, overly heartfelt 2 a.m. text message, or other – ahem – private information. Have you ever had to deal with the repercussions: identity theft, a very uncomfortable conversation with your coworker or a creepy message from your boyfriend’s roommate? If yes – you are not alone. You have plenty of company in the hall of shame: Anthony Weiner, Tiger Woods and every single person on “To Catch a Predator.” You can now file these, along with un-rewound videos and the plague, as problems of the past.
No, I’m not saying you need to stop sending inappropriate or even illicit information. On the contrary, send away …so long as you are using Wickr, that is.
Wickr, with its tagline “the Internet is forever, your private communications don’t need to be,” goes beyond basic encryption and allows users to send “self-destructing” messages. While this all sounds very Mission Impossible, there is true possibility in the idea of being able to send someone a message, photo, audio or video file that the recipient can view, but will disappear entirely, both from the device and the operating system, after a designated period of time. Using Wickr, the sender can control who reads the message, where and for how long. After the designated period of time elapses (the proverbial burning of the wick … Wickr, get it?), the message “explodes,” and is deleted from the phone, network and app.
While most will probably use this free app for benign, unobjectionable reasons, this service, which touts “the best available privacy, anonymity and anti-forensic features,” potentially has some very serious societal implications. As any avid viewer of “First 48” should know, text messages and other mobile generated data often play a crucial role in law enforcement’s criminal investigations. This type of app, with which – theoretically – a criminal could effectively shield not only the content of their communication but any trace of its transmission from law enforcement interception. Is this potentially an additional weapon in a criminal’s arsenal? On the other hand, this could potentially allow an embedded reporter in a contested region of the world to send breaking news or condemning video to a news bureau from their mobile device without fear of interception or retaliation by a hostile local government.
Hmm, maybe this is about more than just sexting …