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An app for consent? The legal and psychological implications of digitally consenting to sex




This photo illustration shows apps on a a smartphone screen in Beijing on September 26, 2017.
This photo illustration shows apps on a a smartphone screen in Beijing on September 26, 2017.
NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

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As the conversation about what constitutes sexual consent in the age of #MeToo continues, some have proposed a technological solution.

Yes, there is indeed an app for that.

LegalFling is one recent example, beta launched today, which creates a live contract in which users can affirmatively consent to sex, adjust their boundaries (condoms? bondage?) and update their preferences as the encounter continues.

Some legal experts say that this digital record could be used in court to signify someone’s intent, in the same way that texts can be incorporated into a case. But what happens if the app is used abusively?

Then there’s the variability of human emotion and consent. Does the app make it more difficult and awkward for one partner to change their mind? Is this a misguided attempt at addressing consent?

Guests:

Michelle Drouin, expert on technology, relationships and sexuality; professor of psychology at Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne

John Manly, an Irvine-based attorney who specializes in representing victims of sexual assault and abuse with the firm Manly, Stewart & Finaldi