Imagine being in the bedroom about to have sex when all of a sudden you have to freeze the moment, sit down and sign a bunch of legal documents to give explicit consent.
It’d be a bit of a wet blanket moment for anyone, something a Dutch tech company is trying to remedy.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement and Sweden considering changes to its rape laws — where partners would have to get explicit consent via contracts before sexual contact — blockchain company LegalThings One came up with LegalFling,an app where people can quickly swipe to give consent.
The company specialises in smart contracts using blockchain technology — a form of public record that ensures everything the couple agree on and consent to cannot be digitally changed.
It’s labelled it a “smart solution” to the practical implications the law could have on people’s lives.
CEO of LegalThings and creator of LegalFling Rick Schmitz claims the app is the best and quickest way couples can legally give consent without killing the mood.
“Asking someone to sign a contract before having sex is a little uncomfortable. With LegalFling, a simple swipe to consent is enough to legally justify the fling,” he said.
The company also says the app solves the problem of signing documents in the bedroom without a witness.
“LegalFling proposes an easy solution to this problem: You ask for consent through the app and indicate upfront what the dos and don’ts are in the bedroom. You accept or decline with the swipe of a finger.”
“A lot easier than putting on protection,” the company says.
But the app just doesn’t just come with a feature asking for consent for sexual intercourse, it also has numerous predefined features you can discuss and then mutually agree on.
Partners can agree on everything from BDSM to using a condom to their partner being STD-free.
One example the company also says is important is partners agreeing to take photos in the bedroom but making sure they’re never seen by anybody else.
The app applies a penalty clause to that agreement meaning if it ever has to be taken to court, things are a little easier.
“This probably does not apply to 99.9 per cent of the users. But please bear in mind this can happen to anyone. And you are totally helpless when it happens. The (social) life of the subject person is never the same afterwards. This app provides a helping hand for these situations,” Mr Schmitz said.
“Nowadays a lot of things can go wrong. Think of unwanted videos, withholding information about STDs, etc. While you’re protected by law, litigating any offences through court is nearly impossible in reality. LegalFling creates a legally binding agreement, which means any offence is a breach of contract. People will think twice when they share a private spicy video or lie about an STD when there is an easy enforceable penalty due,” Mr Schmitz said.
The company also insists the app isn’t just for one night stands — with couples being able to add infinite durations on their contracts.
“For a short-term fling you can limit the timing of the consent to a couple of hours. But the penalty clauses will remain intact after that, for your protection,” Mr Schmitz said.
LegalFling is also adamant their app won’t kill the mood.
“We don’t think it will ruin the mood. Eventually you’ll be able to shout a quick notice for giving consent to your phone/Alexa like device,” Mr Schmitz said.
While the issue of sexual consent is an extremely complicated one, the company said just because you consent on the app doesn’t mean you can’t withdraw at any time.
“LegalFling is here for the actual fling, hence the name. If you don’t want to get involved, walk away. If you’re forced, you’re getting in a whole different legal territory,” Mr Schmitz said.
But not everyone is completely ready to embrace the thinking behind the app, with a solicitor from one of Australia’s biggest law firms slamming the technology.
Shine Lawyers solicitor Peter Coggins called the app “offensive”.
“This app is possibly one of the most offensive things I have come across,” he told news.com.au.
Mr Coggins said there are plenty of legal difficulties that can come with giving consent in the bedroom then potentially changing your mind later.
“Consent can be withdrawn at any time, which would render any prior consent given, however documented, meaningless,” he said.
“This is a very bad attempt to regulate potential criminal matters with mechanisms of civil law,” he added.
As for the feature that lets partners consent or not consent to bedroom photos being taken and shared, Mr Coggins said incoming revenge porn laws should render that feature useless.
“There are revenge porn laws coming into effect around Australia and the world addressing aspects of what this app is trying to achieve,” he said.
And as a final warning, Mr Coggins said using this app to get explicit sexual consent would come with dangers.
“Reliance on any function of this app in a civil or criminal matter in Australia would be disingenuous and fraught with risk.”
While the app hasn’t hit Australian shores yet, the way LegalThings One uses blockchain technology means any developer in Australia can pick up the contracts and build its own version of the app based on Australian consent legislation.
Developers pay for the solution by using cryptographic tokens that the company sells through Live Contracts.
Developers then have all the freedom to tweak or change the app as they see fit.
And despite the company not having a launch date for the app yet, Mr Schmitz said they’ve already had plenty of monetary support.
“The Live Contract technology is ready. We’re currently polling interest for the solution, which seems to be huge,” he said.