- uConsent is a new app that enables partners to create consent agreements before engaging in sex.
- The process involves making a contract and getting your smartphones to “agree” to the terms.
- The process seems clunky and could cause more problems than you’d expect.
With the #metoo movement, Bill Cosby’s conviction, and the allegations surrounding Harvey Weinstein, sexual consent is on people’s minds more than ever before. It was only a matter of time before you could say, “There’s an app for that,” when it comes to sexual consent.
And here it is: uConsent, a smartphone app for both Android and iOS devices. The purpose of uConsent is to allow two people to create a non-binding agreement to engage in some sort of sexual activity together. Once the agreement is verified, users will have a device-specific, location-tracked agreement that is stored anonymously in the cloud.
Here’s how it works: two people agree to create a consent agreement using the app. One person verbally states as well as writes into the app what they are consenting to, while the other does the same. Since they are communicating verbally, the two text entries should be identical.
With a swipe in the app, a QR code is created. The requesting party scans the QR code with their device which then generates a note of consent for the agreed-upon actions. In the future, should a dispute arise, the consent agreement can be used to defend oneself against false allegations or to prove oneself against disbelief.
There are some significant caveats here. First, the law wouldn’t recognize an agreement in uConsent as a legally-binding contract. Therefore, it would be up to a judge to decide whether the information could be introduced in a trial surrounding some sort of assault allegations.
The agreement made with uConsent is not legally binding and won't prove or disprove assault allegations.
Second, just like with verbal consent, consent can be withdrawn at any time during a sexual encounter. If both partners agree in uConsent to perform Act A but then one of the partners starts to perform Act B, the consent agreement doesn’t really help. In fact, now you have proof that one partner consented to sex, which diminishes the case if a victim claims their consent was violated during the encounter.
In other words, a rapist could get consent from a victim for one sex act, and then force them to do other sex acts they didn’t consent to. Unless the act is filmed, it will be difficult for the victim to prove that sex acts they didn’t consent to even happened, but it will be easier for the rapist to prove that the victim complied.
These issues don’t even touch on the awkward conversation that will have to happen to use something like uConsent. While the traditional “Is this OK?” conversation can certainly be awkward, it’s decidedly less awkward than whipping out your phones, downloading an app, and creating a contract. It doesn’t really set the mood.
The creators of uConsent simply want people to communicate before engaging in sex. They hope that the app will help that conversation happen, however awkward it might be. It’s an excellent idea and a worthwhile cause, but I don’t know if uConsent is going to be the hit on college campuses that the creators think it might be.