A piece in today’s Times:
A free app that allows people to express their consent to sex has been labelled a turn-off that could rob lovers of the ability to read each other’s desires.
iConsent, a Danish app, says that it connects users via their phone numbers and allows them to ask for or accept consent requests in less than 30 seconds.
“The consent is valid for one intercourse and expires after 24 hours. The consent can also be withdrawn at any time by both parties,” its website says.
Last month a law was passed in Copenhagen that makes explicit consent to sex mandatory and categorises sex without consent as rape.
The app creates a digital contract that is encrypted and stored but experts doubt that it could be used as evidence in court. The website notes that the consent in the app can never stand alone, telling users: “It is up to you and the other party to secure your consent before, during and after intercourse.” [J4MB emphasis]
So far Danes have failed to embrace the idea, and the app scores 2.3 out of five in the 25 user reviews posted. One reviewer said that it could be abused by forcing one party to accept.
The newspaper Berlingske said that the app made sex as “unsexy as a corona news conference”. The paper said that “nothing is as sexy as consent” but that that applied to the direct and continuous exchange between two people, not to a “yes-to-sex” app “that will rob us of the last vestiges of warmth”.
The consent law was aimed not at getting people to sign anything before sex but to listen and respond to nuances. Jesper Bay-Hansen, a sexologist, said: “Reading others sexually is a skill. If we shift that into an app then we will deprive ourselves of some of the possibilities to learn this skill.”
Lawyers said that the app was unlikely to be used as evidence in court because there could be other developments between the couple.
Mikkel Flyverbom, a professor at Copenhagen Business School and a member of the Danish data ethics council, said that the app highlighted a “naive faith in technology” that prevailed in parts of society. Some people were under the mistaken impression that all complex social challenges and human interactions could be solved at the push of a button, he said.
The chairwoman of the family planning association said that the app did not address people’s needs. “A sexual relationship is no contract,” she said.
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