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This New Application is Utilizing Blockchains to Help Rape Survivors?

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For the ongoing series, Code Word, they are examining if — and how — technology can protect individuals against sexual assault and harassment, and how it can help and support survivors.

When many think of blockchain, they recall cryptocurrencies. But as one of the most compelling new fields of developing technology, there is an astonishingly broad collection of use cases for blockchain — as well as numerous hollow promises and scams. 

When it comes to battling the age-old dilemma of how to deter sexual assault, it is apparent we require to watch for new ways to do so. Blockchain’s capacity to store and enter data, and anonymize reports, holds the assuring potential to aid survivors of sexual crime.

Introducing the new app, Smashboard, an India-based alternative social media network, with distinct characteristics to challenge rape culture, and create an all-inclusive, feminist online community for survivors of sexual assault and allies.

The app, which is accessible to download in India on both Android and iOS devices, harnesses the Ethereum blockchain to privatize and encrypt users’ messaging, to produce a protected online space, through flawless pseudo-anonymization. The app’s features incorporate an unforgettable time-stamped journal for survivors to record events of their sexual assault, which can, they say, eventually be used as evidence in court proceedings. 

Adding to this, the non-profit app offers an extensive list of mental health and legal practitioners resources, a forum for users to seek and offer help within the community, and a newsfeed displaying articles from feminist publications, with an choice to leave anonymous tips for journalists, if they wish to share their story of sexual assault.

All users can remain anonymous when using the app, which allegedly doesn’t harvest data or uses location-tracking software.

While Smashboard uses blockchain to protect the identity of its users, it has plans to launch its coin. However, the use of cryptocurrency is currently banned in India. 

Speaking to Quartz, Noopur Tiwari, the founder of the app, said she believes that if crypto was legalized and properly regulated, Smashboard could originate a coin called “SMASH” to fund feminist campaigns, digital tools, and grassroots initiatives, from investors who are ideologically aligned with the cause. 

This app connects survivors, and allies alike, through its app. However, right now it is exclusively accessible in English, Spanish, and French but has plans to expand its language options.

“SMASH coin will run on Ethereum as well. Blockchain is hailed as the technology that will, soon, fundamentally reconstruct the way tasks are done online. 

It is indeed conceivably disruptive because it is primarily a medium for decentralization,” Tiwari told TNW. “The breakdown of patriarchal institutions and structures as envisioned by feminists is also disruptive. Hence, blockchain appeals to feminism —especially when the technology is extended to socio political-arenas. 

By being amongst the early majority (since blockchain is no longer “new”), women can mold, and use the technology for their common purpose of dismantling patriarchy.” 

Technology is black and white, but the world of humans is not. We can never singularly rely on technology to protect us because technology can never be a replacement for a healthy sexual culture, where consent is respected and addressed immodestly. 

However, Smashboard offers hope in creating a safe online space for survivors at a time when the #MeToo movement in India is causing waves.