Imagine yourself in a situation where you’re on a date which is going great. You’ve already succeeded in convincing her to stay the night and offer a ride to home. Love is already in the air and the mood is perfectly set to get cozy and involve into each other. You look into her eyes, and say, “Are you ready?”, and you know that her answer is an obvious “yes”, until you remember asking for explicit consent and open the app on your phone, send her the consent and wait for her to swipe yes. All these important steps, before the foreplay to ensure that you both legally agree to engage in a sexual encounter. This is actually what the new app called LegalFling is all about. With just a swipe, you’ll be able to request formal consent before warming up the bed with someone.
The Dutch blockchain company recently announced this app in the wake of #MeToo movement that dominated Twitter last year, through which women openly shared their stories of being harassed, sexually abused and raped. With LegalFling, the company aims to keep sex both fun and safe by guaranteeing privacy through legally binding contracts that are verifiable through blockchain.
The website says: “Sex should be fun and safe, but nowadays a lot of things can go wrong. Think of unwanted videos, withholding information about STDs and offensive porn reenactment. While you're protected by law, litigating any offenses through court is nearly impossible in reality. LegalFling creates a legally binding agreement, which means any offense is a breach of contract. By using the Live Contracts protocol, your private agreement is verifiable using the blockchain and enforceable with a single click.”
The app is still under development and subject to approval by Apple to Google to list on their app stores. It is integrated with features like the ability to quickly send or sign a contract by sending the request on popular messaging apps like Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger or through SMS. According to their website, “the LegalFling app verifies mutual consent. Only the transaction hash is stored and timestamped in the blockchain, so your privacy is guaranteed”. The App can also let you send Fling requests to multiple people if you’re a polyamory believer.
You can also escalate a breach to trigger Cease and Desist letters in cases where your partner is sharing that private video or pictures without your consent. The agreement according to the company also explicitly describes that “No” means “No” at any time and being passed out means “No” at any time. You can even withdraw consent going forward if you no longer feel comfortable through the app.
But, leaving all these features aside, the app really has no practical use. It seems pretty awkward to pause in the middle of a sexual activity, just to tap on the phone to communicate that you’re no longer comfortable. This can be expressed in a far better way in person. You certainly don’t want a blockchain technology to do that for you.
LegalFling however, is not the only consent app. There are others like SaSie and We-Consent that were built on the same idea of using technology to indicate consent. The problem with these sexual content apps, however, is that these apps more often serve to provide agreement rather than consent. Besides, swiping “yes” doesn’t mean that the person will be comfortable during the sexual encounter.
While the future of the app remains in the hands of its users, the ideal solution to the sexual consent actually lies in openly discussing about it rather than utilizing digital tools. To have an open conversation with your partner on what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not makes more sense than handing a contract, just because you can register it on a blockhain.