Apple approves app suite designed to prevent sexual assault

(Courtesy/We-Consent)

Apple approved a series of free apps designed to assist sexual assault victims and encourage sexual consent.

The App Suite consists of four apps including We-Consent, What-About-No, I’ve-Been-Violated and The-Party-Pass, with each serving a complementary purpose.

“We can give you your own private, safe space,” said Michael Lissack, the executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence, a non-profit educational research institute based outside of Boston. ISCE gained approval for the apps after “battling” with Apple for a year. 

“Last year Apple called the We-Consent App ‘icky’ and refused to allow it in the app store,” the press release said.

Lissack said ISCE protested this all the way up to Tim Cook.

“It was his office who said that ‘they need to find another way to do it, we think it’s icky,” Lissack said in the press release.

This conversation occurred over the phone with the ISCE lawyers.

Lissack said that because ISCE is a public charity he wants to keep the apps free.

I’ve-Been-Violated should be downloaded and registered before an incident happens, Lissack said.

“This app is designed for those unfortunate times when an assault occurs and the victim is unwilling to immediately speak with appropriate third parties (i.e. legal, health or school based) about that event,” according to the press release.

After a sexual assault, talking with the authorities can be a second traumatic experience, Lissack said.

“You should at least have the right to decide when the next trauma is going to visit you,” he said, adding that the only people who will have access to the videos are the authorities.

“The video is only available to appropriate legal, health, and school authorities or upon subpoena. When the victim believes it is time to speak about what happened, the I’ve-Been-Violated™ video record is available to use as contemporaneous evidence that can minimize credibility issues,” according to the press release.

The content that is recorded includes the victim’s name, a statement of what happened, and the name of the assaulter, according to the press release.

“This information is video recorded, and, as with all other apps in the We-Consent™ App Suite, the geocoded, time-stamped video is encrypted and sent to the cloud for transfer to offline storage,” according to the press release.

One of the other apps in the suite, We-Consent, is designed to record evidence of consent.

“Each partner is prompted to state his or her name, the name of the other partner and to state explicitly “yes” to sexual relations. If the second partner is feeling coerced, he or she can state “forced yes” and the app creates a record of the coercion,” according to the press release.

Lissack said the point of the apps is to get people talking before sexual relations occur. He said if you don’t talk, that’s the problem.

“Sexual relations are something that two people engage in with each other,” Lissack said. “The idea that it’s ok not to talk is not ok.”

The-Party-Pass, one of the other apps in the suite was created to prevent sexual assault.

“Using a web-based interface, hosts of parties generate a QR-code to be printed as a poster and displayed at the entrance to a party. Attendees of the party then use their phones to scan the QR code as part of the process of gaining admittance to the party,” according to the press release.

Lissack said that the point of The-Party-Pass is to change the mindset of college parties.

“The general default mindset when people go to college parties is ‘gee there is a lot of booze here and the reason people are here is to hookup,’” he said.

Lissack said the idea of The-Party-Pass is to get that assumption to change.

The last app in the suite is What-About-No. It was designed to address those deliberately not listening to someone saying “no” to sexual advances.

“This app creates a powerful delivery of a ‘NO’ message and gives the user the option of recording someone watching a video of a policeman stating ‘NO’ in clear terms,” according to the press release.

A video of the policeman shows up on the app and delivers this speech: “You were told NO! A video of that no message has been recorded and saved. What is it about the word no that you do not understand? No means No! A video of you watching this ‘No’ message has been safely uploaded to the cloud,” according to the press release.

Lissack said these videos create a permanent record of coercion.

“There’s no way to get rid of the video,” he said. “Why would they want to get themselves into any more trouble?"


Jacqueline Devine is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at jacqueline.devine@uconn.edu.