Disckreet: A sexting app to protect us from those we (used to) love
Disckreet, a new mobile application that allows couples to record sex tapes and make them viewable only when both participants are present, seems like another example of technology's brotastic culture. It would be easy to dismiss the application for its name alone -- a service that's just one letter away from having "dick" in its name is bound to have problems -- and its intended use-case doesn't help matters. But, believe it or not, Disckreet might be a good thing.
Recording a sex tape isn't all that strange. Given the proliferation of smartphone cameras and a new belief that something must be recorded for it to have actually happened, it's no surprise that some people are taping themselves bumping uglies for their personal use. The problem is that those same smartphones and the spread of websites dedicated to raunchy videos is that a sex tape can quickly escape from the circle of trust and emerge into the Internet as a whole.
This has led to a phenomenon called "revenge porn," in which a spurned lover takes a private image or video and makes it available to anyone who wishes to view it, and it's a real problem. Here's what the Economist said about the category-slash-phenomenon in a previous report:
At least 3,000 porn websites around the world feature the revenge genre, and the number is rising, says John Di Giacomo of Revision Legal, a Michigan-based law firm. Women’s charities in Britain and America say more victims are contacting them for help all the time. (Men are occasionally targeted, too.) In Japan the number of cases reported to police more than tripled, to 27,334, between 2008 and 2012.
The consequences for the unwitting subjects can be severe, including damage to their future relationships and careers. Ms Chiarini was harassed online. Others have had abusive strangers turn up at their doors. In the past couple of years several are known to have killed themselves. It's clear that releasing a private sex tape to the public can have dramatic consequences for people who were just trying to record an intimate moment. Yet it's almost impossible to get revenge porn removed from the Internet, according to Vox, and it's still legal in many states. Once the decision to record a video or take a photo has been made, and someone else posts that previously private erotica to the Internet, there's little recourse for many of the victims.
That's where something like Disckreet could come in. The application doesn't upload videos to the Internet, it protects them with secure encryption standards, and it requires two passcodes -- one for each partner -- before a video can be accessed. It took two people to make the video, and it's gonna take two people to watch it, too. (I'm assuming the app doesn't make exceptions for videos with more than one subject, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it in a later update.)
Disckreet hasn't done itself any favors by choosing that name, and the chauvinistic culture of many technology companies makes it seem like yet another tool for twenty-something assholes worried more about sex than anything else. But if it can help people protect themselves from having their lives ruined when someone posts the sex tape that, let's be honest, was probably going to be recorded anyway, it's worth looking past the phallic forest to see some of the trees.
[illustration by Brad Jonas for Pando]