Consent controversy: Sex consent apps

(WHDH) — Smartphone apps make life a lot easier these days. Pay a parking ticket, pick up dry cleaning, order dinner. And the latest — two people can agree to have sex.

Most single people haven’t heard of this.

There’s “Consensual,” “Consentsy,” and many others. Apps to help singles navigate the new complex dating scene. Developers tell us two people can come to an open consent agreement using their technology. They claim it’s clear, then, whether or not both people said yes or no to sex.

“The hope was that people would use the app to actually have a conversation with their partners,” said Mike Myers, a developer for the “Consentsy” sexual consent app.

“It’s almost like a digital condom,” said Tristan Amzallag, a developer for the “Consensual” app. “So I would almost say when the condom conversation comes up, it’s easy to slip this in as part of it.”

Some of the sexual consent apps use a digital contract. Others require both parties to record a video of themselves clearly explaining what they’re agreeing to.

“Do you see this as a legal contract?” asked 7’s Kaitlin McCulley.

“I think it’s one piece of a possible legal defense”, said Amzallag.

But one attorney who specializes in sexual violence sees no defense in these apps.

“There may be guys out there who say, as long as I get this signed I can’t go to jail. Wrong!” said Wendy Murphy, an attorney with The Women and Children’s Advocacy Project. She says consent to sex can be revoked at any time; that’s been proven in court.

“Even if a woman signs a document that says ‘I hearby consent to have sex with you.’ That document is worth nothing if she, two seconds later, changes her mind,” said Murphy.

App developers aren’t arguing with that.

“There’s no bullet-proof consent that can be given. It’s an on-going thing,” said Myers.

Whether these apps help or hurt, is still up for debate.

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