Meet the Man Who Wants to Fix Dating With the Blockchain
‘We want to take dating and bring it back to being consensual, respectful fun.’
It’s a general truth that if there’s a social problem in the news, someone will propose a technological solution to it. Enter the UK-based Consent Tracker, which is seeking beta testers now and promises a “safer dating experience” by enabling users to “[build] consent throughout your date.”
And yes, before you ask — it is built on the blockchain.
Consent Tracker isn’t the first app to promise a technological solution to the problem of sexual assault; it’s not even the first to use the blockchain to that end. But unlike some of its predecessors, Consent Tracker is not exclusively focused on sex. It encourages users to make use of the app long before they even meet each other. But it’s still shaped by the same assumptions that underlie every other consent app — namely, that digitally logging what we say or do can somehow create a safer, more consensual relationship.
I wanted to know what drives a person to make this sort of app, to ignore years of pushback and other failed attempts, and convince themselves that they’d truly tapped into something innovative. So I reached out to founder Jason Maskell, who was inspired to found Consent Tracker after a late night epiphany about the power blockchain might have to stop sexual assaults that result from online dating.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
How does Consent Tracker work?
The whole idea is, you’re on a dating app, or you meet someone in a bar or restaurant or whenever you’re out, and you go, yeah, contact me. That person has to fully verify their ID by uploading an ID that’s checked with a profile picture, so we know they are who they say they are. They can use whatever username they want, but their real name is safely secured in the blockchain for later.
You then say, “Alright, let’s arrange a date.” Both people agree. [The app] will then start creating a smart contract in the blockchain. You can then arrange to meet, have a drink, go out for coffee, whatever you want to do. And by interacting in…