Wickr and the Right to Private Communications

By Nico Sell, Co-Founder

Over the past week, Wickr has received inquiries from journalists in various countries asking whether or not Wickr is being used by extremists. I wanted to address these questions openly and share how we think about this issue.

Wickr was founded upon the belief that private communications are a universal human right. One that is vitally important to a free society. Today, privacy is almost nonexistent.


Wickr provides its users around the globe with a platform for secure, end-to-end encrypted communication. Further, we meet top-secret standards through a procedure known as “perfect forward secrecy.” When a message is sent or received, only your device has the decryption key and a different key is used for each message. This differs from other messaging platforms that hold the keys at the server level rather than on the device. In other words, anyone with access to those companies’ keys, has access to your messages. In contrast, anyone using Wickr will be served messages that are encrypted end-to-end with a sender-controlled, self-destructing time limit.

From day one, Wickr was designed to never hold a master encryption key, thus preventing Wickr from ever violating the privacy of our users by reviewing their messages. We simply do not have the capability of knowing who our users are. Unless users volunteer directly, we have zero knowledge about them and no metadata. Let me say this in the clearest of terms: we don’t know who you are, where you are, what conversations you are having, and we certainly don’t know who you are having those conversations with. That is not the case with other popular messaging apps. Consumers should be wary if a company is unwilling to give them this privacy guarantee.

Ultimately, we believe that enabling millions of individuals to correspond safely is more beneficial to the survival of a free society than not having this option. Wickr is an essential tool for activists, journalists, whistleblowers, human rights defenders, business leaders, gamers and even children across the world. We bring people closer together through the promise of private (and free) communications.

People engaged in misconduct and violations of the law may be using Wickr. Just as they will also be using WiFi, telephones, banking systems, automobiles and shoes, this does not mean that we should cease the use of high or low tech because some people have chosen to do wrong.

Just today, I was discussing this with Thor Halvorssen, President of the Human Rights Foundation and a Wickr advisor. His response was:

“Being devoted to the belief that every individual has the right to privacy in their communications, does not mean that we agree with or endorse how people will use that right. If Wickr is going to survive, it must continue to provide a safe space for people across the world to communicate. There can be no compromise, no back-door, no exception.”

About Wickr

The Wickr team is made up of security and privacy experts who strongly believe private communications is a universal human right that is extremely important to a strong social system. Private communications worldwide will enable evolution instead of revolution. We are proud to make an app that is successfully used by the most famous human rights activists in the world as the official app of the Oslo Freedom Forum. Wickr is strong enough to fight dictators and fun enough to be used by kids every day. Wickr’s secret headquarters are in San Francisco, CA. More information is available at www.wickr.com.