Is ICQ New Safe? Find How Secure It Is

ICQ was the first and the most popular messenger program in the 1990s and the early 2000s, before its decay in 2010s. What's happened to ICQ, and why is it gaining popularity again right now? And what's more important, is ICQ safe, especially its newest versions? Let's figure it out together.

What happened to the good old ICQ?

Here's the ICQ Crash Course: in 1996, an Israeli company Mirabilis developed a computer program, ICQ ("I seek you.") It was one of the first messengers that worked over the Internet, and eventually, and before ICQ, people communicated mostly via emails. When the convenient chats of ICQ arrived, they proved to be an instant success.

old ICQ


Of course, the program's popularity meant other IT companies would try to create their messenger apps. So they did. Microsoft followed with its AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! did with the Yahoo! Messenger, but surprisingly, ICQ outlasted all its competitors and reached 100 million registered users by the spring of 2001.

The times went by, and internet technologies and trends developed fast. In the late 2000s, social networks, mostly Facebook, boomed. They had a friendlier user interface and provided a better experience. It became easier to connect with people via Facebook than via the ICQ's hard-to-remember ID numbers. Due to this, old-school messenger apps lost most of their users. In 2010 Russian company Digital Sky Technologies (known today as Mail.ru Group) bought ICQ and still develops it today.

Was the old ICQ anonymous? Well, not really. The texts lacked any encryption. If hackers had control over someone's internet network, they'd have access to all their ICQ messages. Also, many third-party developers created password crackers and trojan horses to get ahold of the people’s ICQ accounts.

What's ICQ New, and why's it popular again?

After Mail.ru Group bought ICQ, they rebranded the app into ICQ New — a modern messenger similar to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram. It works on all major mobile and desktop platforms. Users can text with friends, have a voice or video calls, create group chats, and do other things.

is icq safe


In January 2021, ICQ reached high positions in Hong Kong's App Store and Google Play. According to the Wall Street Journal, the app multiplied 35% there between January 5 and 12. This rise in popularity occurred due to WhatsApp's updates to their privacy policy, which allowed storing users' data on Facebook servers. So, the Hong Kong users turned their heads towards other messenger apps. Some chose Signal, the messenger Elon Musk tweeted about, and others got Telegram. The older audience that remembered the early Internet started installing ICQ New. With this surge in popularity we began to ask a question — is ICQ safe to use? Does it have encryption now and what’s its Privacy Policy today?

Is The New ICQ Safe?

To secure users’ communication, modern messengers use advanced encryption. Is ICQ New safe in terms of encryption? The app claims to have end-to-end encryption for voice and video calls, which means the caller's data is encrypted at their device and decrypted at the device of the person they're calling. ICQ New claims that even they cannot know about what the two people are talking about. Simultaneously, there's no end-to-end encryption for usual chats, which means that third parties can intercept them.

To the question of how is ICQ New safe, we have to look at the app's country of jurisdiction. As the program is now owned and controlled by Mail.ru Group, which has most of its servers located in Russia. Russian law requires all servers to keep logs and data of their Russian users in case there's an investigation or suspicion of terrorism.

So how safe is ICQ in terms of privacy? The app's Privacy Policy tells us that ICQ is required to disclose personal information to authorized officers of the court. They can also access your data if they believe that the ICQ New Services are being used illegally or in the commission of a crime or when they think there is an emergency that poses a threat to your or another person's safety. In these and some other cases, ICQ can reveal the contents of your communications (text messages, pictures, videos), as well as additional information about you, like your IP address. So if you're wondering if the new ICQ is anonymous, remember that it'll disclose your texts if the authorities ask them to.

Want to secure your chat messages from falling into the wrong hands? Here's how to do it with ClearVPN:

1. Install ClearVPN on your device (let's take macOS version as an example)

2. Open the app and go to All Shortcuts

3. Scroll down and activate the Safe Chats shortcut

4. Done! Your texts are safe and sound now👌

Safe Chats


Should You Use ICQ New?

If you were the old ICQ user and now miss the good old days of the early Internet, you could give ICQ New a try. It still has those customizable status fields that most modern messengers miss and has its own API for creating chatbots. But if you're concerned about your personal data's privacy and security, use messengers that are more committed to it and have safer jurisdictions, like Signal.

Conclusion

ICQ was a messenger app that boomed in the 90s and early 2000s until the social networks, mostly Facebook, took over. Russian company Mail.ru bought ICQ and redesigned the program into ICQ New — a messenger app similar to Telegram and Signal. In 2021, with the controversial changes to WhatsApp's Privacy Policy, ICQ New became popular in Hong Kong.

Is ICQ Safe? Well, the app has end-to-end encryption only for audio and video calls. All the other contents of your communications, like texts and photos you share with other people, do not have any protection and can be accessed by ICQ. In their Privacy Policy, the company says that they will reveal your chats' contents if asked by the authorities. In this case, they'll also provide your IP address and other information linked to your ICQ account.

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