Consent app won’t save you from the law, young people warned

British students have been warned not to rely on “dangerous” sexual consent apps, as experts say they could leave “naive” youngsters criminalised. Apps like LegalFling, from Dutch company LegalThings, “promise users that they can be used to demonstrate both parties have consented to sex,” reports The Sunday Telegraph.

With a “simple swipe”, the company claims, users can verify consent before sexual activity, thus providing themselves with protection from charges of sexual assault. However, it has been pointed out that despite apparent agreement, 'people” – that is, women -- may changes their minds during a “fling”, and there is no proof that the person swiping the app is the intended partner.

The LegalFling app “requires both individuals to agree to a legally binding contract,” which includes “elements such as whether or not they will use a condom and that neither has any sexually transmitted infections.”

If, as commonly asserted, romance is dead, surely this must be the last nail in its coffin.

Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-Chancellor of Buckingham University, told the Telegraph that these apps present moral as well as legal problems:

“Those things that make sex into a commodity are really unhelpful for fulfillment in life,” he said. “It sounds like a terrible idea, the purveyors will make money but will bring misery.

“Legally it seems high risky, it is going to always be open to interpretation.  It will make people vulnerable to allegations.”

Clearly, such technological fixes put young people at greatest risk for moral problems, owing to their lack of life experience; yet sex education lessons chiefly tell them how to “have sex”.

In the world of “legal flings” and modern sex-ed the only “moral” aspect is the necessity of obtaining consent, regardless of the legal age of consent, below which young people are considered unable to give consent by virtue of their immaturity -- a problem, sadly, inseparable from youth.

The only other consideration is using contraception, and the apps purportedly take care of that too.

According to the government’s Intellectual Property Office, primary schoolchildren are to be taught about copyright and intellectual property law because of the problems of children doing school work with the help of the internet, and by the time they are teenagers it is “too late to teach them about respecting copyright laws.”

It is a pity that they are not taught about the necessity of respecting themselves and others when it comes to sexual relations. It is a tragedy, too, that property seems to be more respected than children’s self-respect.

Unlike the LegalFling app, the marriage contract is legally binding, entered into before witnesses with no risk of mistaken identity or misread intentions. It should be encouraged among children while there is still time to nurture their self-respect – before they too become ‘users’ - of people as well as of apps.

Ann Farmer Ann Farmer lives in the UK. She is the author of By Their Fruits: Eugenics, Population Control, and the Abortion Campaign (CUAP, 2008); The Language of Life: Christians Facing the Abortion Challenge (St Pauls, 1995), and Prophets & Priests: the Hidden Face of the Birth Control Movement (St Austin Press, 2002).


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