Queensland drug dealers are using an encrypted messaging app to set up meetings and subvert authorities, as ads for drugs are posted on online classifieds sites.
Advertisements for people selling and seeking illicit drugs and prescription medication have been on online marketplaces, however sellers are now asking customers to contact them using the Wickr app.
Wickr messages are encrypted and can be erased by the sender once they have been read. The messages are also erased from Wickr’s servers, leaving few clues for evidence.
The company’s law enforcement guidelines say it can provide some information to US authorities under subpoena, but not the actual messages sent between users.
“Our logs contain no message content or tracking information related to the delivery of messages,” the app’s website says.
One online advertiser in Brisbane claimed to be selling more than 15 types of drugs, including ice, cocaine and LSD.
In an advertisement posted on Monday, he told customers to get in touch using Wickr or via email.
Another marijuana seller, who facilitates deals through Wickr, boasts that “delivery is 100% discreet and shipping is available for outta state/remote in-state areas”.
Wickr boasts a broad range of users and the technology is not illegal.
When it was revealed earlier this year that federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull uses Wickr to chat with parliamentary colleagues, the app’s popularity soared.
“I use Wickr as an application, I use a number of others, I use WhatsApp, because they’re superior over-the-top messaging platforms; hundreds of millions of people do,” Mr Turnbull said in March.
Queensland police declined to be interviewed about the use of Wickr in drug deals.
However in a statement, a spokeswoman said: “Police are aware of a variety of methods that are used to distribute or sell drugs and police respond as needed.”
Queensland University of Technology Emeritus Professor Bill Caelli said Wickr’s ability to hide metadata and shred messages set it apart from most other apps.
“Wickr is one of the phenomena of the growth of the cyber security industry itself, and that’s attracting a lot of venture capital,” he said.
“All technologies have good and bad users. It’s like Bonnie and Clyde, who bought the best cars to rob banks.”
Source: The Guardian