'Consent' Apps Explode in Popularity as Millennials Sign Digital Contracts Before Hookups
We know by now that there’s an app for just about everything, so it’s probably not surprising that there is now a slew of them for consensual sex. A review of Apple’s iTunes App Store and Google Play finds close to a dozen. Most of them are similar, providing a means to agree beforehand by signing a consent form and taping or videoing the agreement.
One example is We-Consent, which allows the couple to use the app to mutually consent to be videotaped, and then for the tape to be encrypted and stored offline. If one party then says no, the video self-destructs. While not legally binding, the app, according to the developer, is intended to be a means to facilitate a discussion.
The same company also makes an app called What-About-No. It’s designed to help one party deliver a clear, strong message to the other person that you are providing a strong "no." The app developer says it’s useful for when simply saying no doesn't seem to be working.
Other apps include Yes to Sex, uConsent, Consent Amour, and ConsentEDU. The last one allows both parties to give or deny mutual consent to a physical relationship and provides documentation. This costs $4.99 per month with a 30-day free trial.
SaSie, also on the App Store, provides a binding agreement that compels two students to conduct an intimate relationship in a manner that is compliant with affirmative consent policies on many campuses in the United States.
The app allows the couple planning to have sex to digitally sign a seven-point legal contract with terminology such as "from this point on, it shall be the responsibility of the parties listed in this Agreement to determine a clear way to communicate permissions and limits with each other, both before and during any sexual encounter they have, whether now or in the near future."
It's employed by opening the app, reading and signing the contract, taking photos of the pair's IDs, and then saving all of it to a password-protected file.
The Consentsy app on the Google Play and iTunes stores claims to help people in today’s world make easier and smarter decisions when it comes to consent:
We believe that consent should never be unclear, and so it is our mission to provide a straightforward way to know if your partner says “yes." No more awkward conversations. In just a few clicks, both you and your partner can enjoy stress-free intimacy... No more worry. With the Consentsy app, you can "get it on” with peace of mind.
To use it, you record your partner’s consent using a camera and microphone. While recording, the consenter will be asked to read a statement consenting to sexual intercourse. After the recording is complete, a pop-up stating “You Consented” appears on the screen. The consenter will then need to tap the “Send” button for the video to be processed and converted to text.
The recorded content is securely stored and cannot be accessed after recording by either party without proper legal documentation.
Legal Fling, a newly announced app, adds more options and allows users to set boundaries on the kinds of sexual activity they are willing to engage in.
Experts question whether any of these apps are really legally binding because the context around them is not always clear. In a March article in the New York Times, Dr. Michelle Drouin, an authority on technology and relationships, said, "The apps are good at documenting consent, but don’t account much for fluctuating human emotions. They don’t necessarily allow for any immediacy of one’s feelings," she said. Drouin added, "It would be very awkward within the context of an intimate encounter to be like, ‘Wait a second, I’m changing my mind on the app and also with you.’”
She's not convinced that these apps offer a very good solution, noting, "The requirement to interact with an app during a sexual encounter is completely unrealistic.”