Are We about to Be Plagued By Cases of “Virtual” Sexual Assault?
It seems these days that a new story arises daily about some prominent person being accused of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Everyone from Harvey Weinstein to George Takei to the first President Bush have been involved in allegations over the past few months, and thus far the so-called “moment” doesn’t show any signs of going away. The question on everybody’s mind is, “Who’s next?”
However, a better question might be, “What’s next?”
In recent years, sex crimes have evolved to include activities like sexting, but a Gizmodo story from the end of October points to an entirely new type of assault that may soon be showing up in courtrooms: “virtual” assault via connected sex toys.
The Potential Problem Inherent in Connected Sex Toys
It’s no secret that our world is becoming more and more connected through technology. We carry mini-computers around with us in our pockets. Refrigerators can help you create a grocery list from afar by letting you know what you’re out of. There are even smart pill bottles that will remind people to take their medication.
Because of this, it should surprise no one that sex toy manufacturers have gotten into the act as well. What makes these products different is that they allow people to virtually engage in private, consensual sexual acts.
How does that work?
Without getting too graphic, one person “wears” the product while the other uses an app to control it. In order to do this, they must be within a certain range of each other (the device mentioned in the article apparently has a 30-foot radius).
Now, what two consenting adults do privately is their own business. However, the very fact that these devices are online opens them up to the possibility of getting hacked.
In other words, someone might set up such a device with the intent of using it with their significant other only to have an unknown individual enter into the arrangement without their permission via the internet.
How Exactly Will Virtual Sexual Assault Be Handled?
The possibility of sexual assault via app or computer raises all kinds of questions because it is something which has no clear corollary.
Should a “virtual” assault of this type be treated the same as traditional, in-person sex crimes?
Is it possible that someone could accidentally gain access to a device like this and unknowingly violate another person?
What level of responsibility should manufacturers have here?
What if someone willingly wears such a device in public as opposed to their private residence – does that imply a kind of consent?
None of these are easy questions to answer, but you can be sure that many will come up the first time one of these cases goes to court – and whatever is decided in those first few cases will likely serve as precedent for years and even decades to come.
If you find yourself accused of a sex crime involving unusual circumstances, make sure you get an experienced lawyer on your side who has a clear track record of success in handling these types of cases. Their specialized knowledge will provide you with the best chance of navigating these dangerous, murky waters and reaching the other side with a positive outcome.
Start your defense today by getting in touch with our office.