Sexual consent was a hot and heavy topic in 2017, with the #MeToo movement coming to a head and governments around the world reevaluating their legal definitions of sexual consent and rape. Alongside the wave of assault awareness, several apps have emerged to try and protect both parties from litigation, revenge porn, and other less than ideal repercussions.
Apps like PlsPlsMe have focused more on interpersonal awareness, adventure, and intimacy building, while others such as the SaSie and the now-defunct Good2Go have made valiant efforts to document sexual consent.
One issue that partners face while trying to document sexual consent is the act of reading through the contract in the moment, and a lack of standardized verbiage. Because sexual consent tends to be fluid, like the act itself, a general consent can easily become a bad decision.
Rick Schmitz, CEO of Dutch-based LegalThings, the company behind LegalFling notes that the process involved in reading and signing a contract could turn a pleasant encounter into a chore which neither party wants to engage in.LegalFling is working to publish consent for all parties involved to the blockchain. The company webpage also notes that sometimes it takes more than two people to complete a journey. In an effort to ensure contracts are legitimate and not forced, the company seems to be using video-recognition for the confirmation videos that serve as an eSignature.
What are some issues with Sexual Consent Validation?
Several sites have recently pointed out that such a product could easily serve to promote rape culture, but others note that both parties should enter an encounter feeling as secure as is possible. Following a proposed bill in Sweden, which would transfer the burden of proof from the victim to the accused, some opinions stand to support the need for protection in case of negative circumstances.
In a similar vein, legal teams have offered concerns that the contracts provided by LegalFling may not be valid in the event that litigation is needed, but according to Mirror, the CEO went on record to state that
This probably does not apply to 99.9% of the users. But please bear in mind this can happen to anyone. And you are totally helpless when it happens. The (social) life of the subject person is never the same afterwards. This app provides a helping hand for these situations.
How can this app alter the current landscape?
Asking someone to sign a contract before the fun starts is a little uncomfortable. A simple swipe is easy as 1,2,3.
In an effort to help prevent fraudulent claims, abuse, and signatures under duress, the website implies the requirement of video confirmation of intent from both parties with facial recognition.
The contract is then pushed to the Waves blockchain where it is made immutable and cannot be altered. The contract allows for options such as group functions, STD verification, photo/videography, and BDSM clauses to be accounted for.
Subsequent actions can be taken to alter consent affirmation, according to the company page,
“No” means “no” at any time. Being passed out means “no” at any time. This is explicitly described in the agreement. Additionally you can withdraw consent going forward through the LegalFling app with a single tap.
The company has taken several hits on social media and in the media at large, with some comments calling their idea “Morally Wrong”.