Olliers’ Toby Wilbraham considers the increasing use of Kik Messenger in indecent image allegations
What is Kik Messenger?
Kik Messenger, (generally just called Kik), is a free instant messaging mobile application. It is available on most devices including those which use Apple and Android operating systems. It uses a smartphone’s data plan or Wi-Fi to transmit and receive messages, photos, videos, and other content after users register a username. Kik is known for its features preserving users’ anonymity, such as allowing users to register without the need to provide a telephone number or valid email address.
Kik was originally intended to be a music-sharing app before changing to messaging. Without doubt it is a popular application. In May 2016, Kik Messenger announced that they had approximately 300 million registered users, and was used by approximately 40% of United States’ teenagers.
It is not as secure as users may believe. The application does not employ end-to-end encryption, and the company also logs user IP addresses, which could be used to determine the user’s ISP and approximate location. This information, as well as “reported” conversations are regularly provided to law enforcement organisations sometimes without the need for a court order.
Can Kik be used to share indecent images?
Like a lot of apps Kik has a dark side. Users are able to join groups where different subjects can be discussed and information, images and videos can be traded. The vast majority of these groups are perfectly innocent. However the app has dark recesses where people trade links, images and videos containing indecent images of children.
We have represented a number of people recently where it was alleged that they had been involved in trading indecent images of children (IIOC) via KIK messenger.
How are the police informed when images are shared?
Allegations arise when a Kik User (KI) is spotted acting suspiciously on the app, either asking for IIOC, trading IIOC or discussing IIOC. Details of the user are passed to either the National Crime Agency or local Police Enforcement Agencies. The police investigate the ISP (Internet Service provider) of the user and locate their address. A warrant is then obtained and the Police then raid that persons address and seize all potentially relevant electronic devices (mobile phones / laptops / computers etc).
The devices are then examined using specialist software which can find any illicit images / videos / searches on the devices, even if they have been deleted.
It is crucial that anyone involved in an indecent images investigation gets specialist advice at the earliest stage. Proactive advice from the onset can change the outcome of the investigation and ensure the best possible outcome. It could potentially avoid prosecution entirely, suggest a caution rather that court proceedings, or in the worst case scenario persuade a court to impose a sentence other than immediate custody.
Article written by Toby Wilbraham
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