New smartphone apps give or deny sexual consent

There are two new apps for Apple’s App Store designed to help reduce the instances of sexual assault on America’s college campuses.

The first is called What About No; its partner app, We Consent, is expected to arrive on the App Store soon.

The apps are designed to reduce sexual assault by recording whether or not someone gave consent. Either they would use We Consent to record their consent (as protection against regret and changed minds), or they would express their lack of consent using What About No.

“What is needed is a way for affirmative consent to be recorded and stored as potential exculpatory evidence,” app creator Lissack toldThe Appalachian, Appalachian State’s newspaper.

“If there is a record of consent, that record can be used to rebut a claim based on changed minds or next day regrets… No one should allow false accusations to happen,” he said.

If users don’t consent, they would use the What About No app to play a message expressing their lack of consent—and the person watching the video is recorded.

Unfortunately, assault victims are often paralyzed by fear and mentally try to flee the event, or they try and fight back against their assailant; in neither of these circumstances would someone be able to open their phone and play a ‘no consent’ message. If they can open their phone, it makes more sense to call 911.

While We Consent will be free, What About No has both free and paid versions. The free version does not record video.

Lissack says that the apps have their drawbacks.

“It isn’t perfect,” Lissack said. “If the offender is drunk, excessively violent, or just already intent on rape, it will do nothing. If the person has any sense of sanity, it acts as a strong reinforcement.”

Reportedly, only authorities like police, courts, or campus officials can access the videos after they have been recorded.

“Not even the phone’s owner would be able to retrieve the video after it’s been encrypted,” said Lissack.

Lissack and others believe that sexual assault is one of the most underreported crimes on a college campus, because of its sensitive nature, the victims’ feelings, and the insular communities that make up college campuses. The actual number of sexual assaults could be much higher than reported, according to Lissack.

“Consent should be clear for everyone,” says Lissack.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @MeganEHolstein