Dutch blockchain company LegalThings is creating a
blockchain-based app that will establish legally binding
contracts for sexual consent.
The app was created in the wake of the #MeToo movement;
the company hopes to establish clear lines of communication
around sexual acts.
Critics of the app argue that it oversimplifies sexual
Blockchain technology could soon be used for something a bit
sexier than keeping track of bitcoin transactions or the movement
of goods within corporate supply chains.
Dutch startup LegalThings announced Wednesday it plans to release
an app designed to allow people to more easily give explicit and
formal consent to sex. Through an easy-to-use interface, couples
or groups will be able to use the app, dubbed LegalFling, to enter into
binding contracts that are recorded on a blockchain, the digital
ledger technology that’s designed to save permanent records of
transactions in multiple places.
The app is meant to be a “fun” solution for navigating the often
ambiguous nuances of sexual consent, said Arnold Daniels,
LegalFling’s creator and the co-founder of LegalThings’
co-founder in an email to Business Insider. But Daniels
acknowledged it may need more work.
“We want to start a dialogue and get input from those with more
expertise on this subject,” Daniels said in an email to Business
Insider. “This is a delicate subject that we’d like to get
Unfortunately for Daniels and LegalFling, instead of sparking a
dialogue the app is instead drawing sharp criticism, at least
from some quarters.
LegalFling represents a “deeply flawed” effort and is a far cry
from how sexual consent should actually work, Gizmodo reporter
wrote in a piece on her site.
“A blanketed [sic] contract ahead of engaging in sexual
contact signals that consent is simply a one-time checklist,”
Ehrenkranz wrote. “Consent, however, is something that occurs
continually throughout a sexual encounter.”
Ironically, LegalThings, according to its website, decided to
develop LegalFling specifically in response to the #MeToo
movement that swept across social media last year, in which women
made public their stories of being sexually harassed, abused, and
raped. That movement has brought to the forefront questions of
consent with regards to sexual behavior. LegalThings was hoping
to address such questions with LegalFling, which it plans to
release in the next few weeks, by providing a way for users to
clearly communicate their intentions.
“Before making it public, we need to get enough input to be
confident we’re addressing the problem in the right way,” Daniels
said in his email.
But the company has a broader goal in mind for LegalFling. It
wants to use the app to showcase its Live Contracts, which are
digitized agreements in which both the deals themselves and the
various ways they’re implemented are recorded in a blockchain.
LegalThings wants to use LegalFling to demonstrate the ease of
entering into a legally binding Live Contract, Daniels said.
“We want to show that creating an agreement doesn’t have to be a
ten-document-long legal document,” he said.
Although the contracts are made using an app and recorded in a
virtual ledger, there can be real consequences for breaking them,
even when it comes to agreements related to sexual conduct,
“For instance, you may have consented to taking nude pictures,
[and] the contract clearly states that these must be deleted upon
request and may never be shared,” he said. If you violate the
agreement, you could be slapped with a $50,000 fine, he said.
“If needed, litigating a violated [non-disclosure agreement] is
much easier than having to go to law enforcement and take it to
criminal court,” Daniels said.