The #MeToo revolution has made us question about things that were taken for granted before. Thanks to the brave women who led the movement, there has been a lot of discussion and debate about consent, sex and flirting amongst other things. While there are numerous helpful reminders about what constitutes ‘consent’, there are many who continue to pretend to be oblivious or confused about the term. And who comes to their rescue? The tech bros.
Consent apps are on the rise despite the fact that criminal lawyers have reiterated that they do not hold any water during court proceedings. Legal Fling, We-Consent and uConsent are the few applications which “have been designed to digitise the act of giving consent so as to avoid any sexual misunderstandings down the line”, writes Olivia Petter for The Independent.
“This is not a legally binding contract. This is like a digital handshake agreement. You talk about what you are agreeing to, and then you shake on it,” said Cody Swann, CEO of Gunner Technology to The Wall Street Journal. Gunner Tech owns the consent app uConsent.
According to The Telegraph, Swann is also in the process of “reformulating the app” so that it includes a panic button and a test to determine whether a person is inebriated or not. Barring the privacy concerns regarding such apps (data is stored in a cloud), there is the obvious question of whether technology is really the answer to all our problems. The act of giving consent and even the act of ignoring it harks back to our social upbringing. Due to insensitive media coverage and the lack of mainstream discussion on it, many feel the need to consent to things to avoid unpleasant situations or to not appear ‘uncool’. In fact, many are even unaware of the fact that they can withdraw consent at any point during the intimate encounter.
Again, when it comes to people who are ‘confused’ about consent, it calls for intense debate and a widespread discussion about what constitutes ‘flirting’ and what is obviously the creation of an uncomfortable situation for the one being wooed. Digital consent apps are easy ways of ignoring an issue that technology just cannot solve.