SEX

‘Prenup’ For Sex Tapes Could Save You From Revenge Porn

A new app promises to give you, and your partner, total control of your 'most intimate moments' by encrypting videos and requiring mutual permission to view them

SEX
Photo Illustration: R. A. Di Ieso
Feb 14, 2017 at 9:37 AM ET

We live in an age of hacked celebrity nudes, leaked sex tapes, and revenge porn. It makes the prospect of filming a sex tape feel like an exercise in inevitable public humiliation and perhaps even career suicide — but a new app is promising to change all that. Rumuki, now available through the App Store, allows users to film, encrypt and keep under digital lock and key their “most intimate moments.” The idea is that your videos are safe from hackers, leaks, and spurned exes.

It might seem suspect that an app is promising to swiftly solve a huge problem — “revenge porn” — that has over the past decade spawned countless court cases, several state laws, and national legislation. But Rumuki has come up with a novel, if not unassailable, system for protecting sensitive videos.

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Let’s say a couple wants to make a sex tape. They both download Rumuki and then sync up with each other’s accounts. Then, one of them uses the app to film a video with their partner. The video is encrypted and saved on each partner’s smartphone. That alone provides a better degree of security than your average horny iPhone wielder is likely to have, but Rumuki goes a step further. The video cannot be watched by either party unless they have permission from their partner. Permission can only be given for a one-time playback, and it expires in a week. Without that permission, the video remains encrypted and cannot be played.

This means that both partners have to contemporaneously consent to the watching of the video. So, say the relationship goes south and the spurned partner wants to take a digital stroll through X-rated memory lane. They can’t without permission from their former partner’s device. Say that same partner wants to send the video to some friends or post it on the internet for a wee bit of sleazy revenge. Again, they can’t even watch the video themselves without permission. The video may be on their device, but it’s encrypted, so they can’t post it to the internet. A user can also revoke permission or delete the video at any point.

Rumuki says the videos are also safe from hacking, since the videos are stored locally on phones and “recordings are never sent across the internet and never touch our servers,” as the company’s website states. It’s theoretically possible for someone to nefariously access a user’s smartphone — say it’s stolen and doesn’t have a passcode — but Rumuki also requires a passcode to log in to the app.

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None of this means that the app is flawless. It’s highly possible, for example, for a partner to secretly use another device to record a video of the clip to create an unencrypted version that isn’t under lock and key. They could then do whatever they want with that video. Someone could also very easily use a one-time playback to show the video to a friend. The FAQ section of the Rumuki website addresses the question, “How do I know my partner won’t abuse my trust?” The answer: “You can’t. However with Rumuki you have the discretion to only grant playbacks when you can keep an eye on them. You also have the option to revoke all playback grants and delete the recording if trust is ever lost.” In other words, if you’re worried about your partner, you can conservatively only grant permission when you can literally keep an eye on them. And while Rumuki’s encryption standards haven’t gone through rounds of independent expert audits the way that top encrypted messaging apps do, the app’s creators have released a whitepaper detailing its specifications.

So, Rumuki removes a lot of the risks of making a sex tape, but not all of them. Technology can only go so far in protecting our most intimate moments. Ultimately, it’s hard to escape that most unreliable but essential element of good old fashioned human trust.

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