Is a new phone app a legitimate way to ensure consent?

TORONTO – The worlds of dating and technology often make for strange collaborations, and a new app meant to reduce sexual assault is proving just that.

Good2Go obtains sexual consent between two individuals through the use of a smartphone. One user hands his or her device to the other who must then answer whether they’re ready for sexual contact.

If the answer is “yes” then they’re asked about their sobriety level as an extra layer of protection.

The intent of the app is to decrease incidents of sexual assault and educate users about proper consent. It does this through built-in messages  that appear when using the app.

Though the intentions may be good, many college-aged students – the intended market for this app – balked at the idea of handing a smartphone to a prospective partner.

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“It’s ridiculous. It takes away from natural human conversation. If you can’t maintain that then you shouldn’t be dating really,” says Nigel, a fourth-year student at Ryerson University.

“It’s a total buzz kill. It’s the way it’s being done. If he asked me these questions [himself] of course I would answer them, but because it’s being done through a phone it feels mechanical and robotic,” says Chantelle, also a Ryerson student.

Consent information gathered from the app would not hold up in a Canadian court of law, according to criminal defence lawyer Daniel Brown.

“Consent is one of those things that someone can take away at any time, and the fact that a person signed off on an app that they were consenting doesn’t mean they didn’t change their mind later,” says Brown.

The scope of consent is also problematic in its vagueness, according to Brown, because the option “good to go” fails to specifically outline what sexual acts are being referenced.

Data privacy was a conern for potential users as well. Their emails and phone numbers are stored indefinitely by the company, along with time of usage.

This data is securely stored in an encrypted format and currently accessible to only around ten staff members.

“I think anyone might be troubled about how they use this information later on. You give them information on who you are, your email address, and ostensibly how often you’re having sex, or how often you’re trying to get consent for sex. I’m not sure I would want that personal information out there.”

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The company’s privacy policy also clearly states that “Personally Identifiable Information” may also be shared with third party service providers  “only to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to perform, improve or maintain the Good2Go Service.”

Law enforcement can also compel the company to hand over user and usage data.

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