Consent Apps: The Frightening Future of Rape
The Dutch company LegalThings announced their intent to release a Consent App last October which, in theory, could allow those wishing to get down create a legal contract of what they are and are not willing to do.
The LegalFling app, which looks like it fell out of Black Mirror, sends a notification request for sex to your “participant” and, if accepted, shares what you're into and what you consent to and creates a Live Contract.
LegalThings staff member Martijn Broersma told Gizmodo that Live Contracts create a proof of existence, meaning “both parties will hold an immutable version of the explicit consent/contract.”
Essentially, after each partner agrees to what they are/are not comfortable with sexually, those notes are time stamped and logged into a blockchain.
I’m all for starting conversations about consent - it’s actually a big part of my job - but apps like this are fostering a dangerous tone that consent is irrevocable once given.
However, the main issue (of many) is that the app does not address is that consent is continuous and the app, and LegalFlings, doesn’t seem to understand that. If things have gone too far - you may not be able to get over to the app to change consent. The rape would then be consented as far as the app is concerned and the rapist will have proof.
LegalThings still needs the final stamp of approval from Apple and Google before its available for consumer use, but its not the only show in town as far as consent apps go. Other mobile applications like We-Consent, SaSie and Good2Go have been introduced as a way of addressing sexual misconduct on US college campuses. Each of which have faced their own fair share of criticism similar to LegalFlings app.
It should be noted that LegalFling's FAQ's section does warn that a sexual partner can change their mind during the act. “No means ‘no’ at any time. Being passed out means ‘no’ at any time,” the page states. “This is explicitly described in the agreement. Additionally you can withdraw consent going forward through the LegalFling app with a single click.”
We are living in an ever increasing digital age but we should not let excuse dehumanising something like consenting to sex.
Unfortunately, I can only see apps like this being used to excuse those being accused a rape and not really helping the victim - something we shouldn’t ever willfully enable or create.
If you'd like to talk to someone about anything that might be troubling you you can contact these helplines:
NSPCC - Helpline: 0808 800 5000 (24 hours, every day) National charity that specilises in the protection of children and young people.
Revenge Porn Helpline - 0345 600 0459 (10:00-16:00, everyday) The Revenge Porn Helpline is the UK's only dedicated service supporting adults that have had private images/videos shared online without consent. They can help with support and practical advice about how to get the images removed.
Survivors UK - Web/SMS/Whatapp chatline: www.survivorsuk.org/ways-we-can-help/online-helpline/
Their helpline service is a chat service for men who have experienced sexual abuse either as a child or an adult and allows you to have a confidential one-to-one chat with one of our trained helpliners. CALM - Helpline: 0800 58 58 58 (17:00 to Midnight, everyday) CALM is for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. We're open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year.
Rape Crisis - Helpline: 0808 802 9999 (12-2:30 and 7-9:30, everyday)
National organisation offering support and counselling for those affected by rape and sexual abuse.
This article was written by Alexander Morgan, CEO of Stay Brave. Alex is a survivor of abuse and exploitation and campaigns against gender stigma that prevent access to abuse services. You can hear more from Alex by following him on Twitter or reading his articles on Huffington Post.