Sexual assault is a big problem on college campuses, so one company is trying to fight the problem by reaching students where they live: on their smartphones.
It's called Good2Go. It's designed to confirm "mutual consent" between two adults, but it does have a few inherent problems.
The app works by asking both users whether they consent to sex and how intoxicated they are. It requires at least one user to have an account and the other to enter their phone number.
The app's creators say they set out to help improve communication, cutting back cases of sexual assault on college campuses by making sure everyone is on board. "It may stop the action for a second, but everyone understands it is in the interest of safety, so it is worth the momentary pause."
And yes, they're totally serious. "Attaining affirmative consent in advance reduces the risk of assaults and regretted encounters and protects both parties."
The app has already gotten a fair share of ribbing. A writer for Uproxx says, "Trying to automate a process that’s profoundly personal and subjective is always going to fail."
But let's say it actually does catch on. Are there any potential downsides?
Well, The Washington Post says, by logging encounters, the app is essentially keeping a record of who you sleep with, when you did it and how drunk or sober you were. As if social media wasn't invasive enough already.
And a writer for Slate says it could protect a partner who goes too far. If one party changes their mind about an encounter but is forced into it anyway, proof that the victim consented at one point could be a powerful defense.
But it's widely known that sexual assault on campuses is a problem, and consent has long been a tough legal issue.
California recently passed a law that takes a "yes means yes" approach, meant to protect victims who were incapacitated or otherwise couldn't give consent. But it's so far the only state to have made that kind of change.
A writer for the libertarian magazine Reason says maybe apps are the answer. "Modern technology is already changing how people find romantic and sexual partners. Nowadays, people use apps like Grindr and Tindr to find sexual partners all the time. Why can't consent work the same way?"
Regardless, most outlets seem to agree that this app is unlikely to catch on, in spite of its good intentions.