Australians have derided a suggestion by the New South Wales (NSW) police commissioner that an app could be used to register sexual consent.

On Thursday, Mick Fuller championed the idea of an app where people could digitally record their mutual agreement to have sex.

He said the technology could be used to establish “positive consent”.

But many people have criticised the proposal as short-sighted and potentially open to abuse.

Concerns have also been raised about whether it could be used for state surveillance.

In recent weeks, Australians have reignited a national discussion about sexual assault, abuse and harassment of women, and on Monday tens of thousands of people around the nation marched in protest.

NSW Police, in introducing the app idea on Thursday, said it was aimed at normalising the act of seeking explicit consent.

“You may have a son or a brother and you think this is too challenging but this app… protects everybody,” Commissioner Mick Fuller told the Nine Network.

He said the need to prove explicit consent was a consistent problem in sexual assault court cases, and that an app’s record could help achieve better legal outcomes for victims. He added that the idea had been raised with the NSW government.

Less than 10% of the near 15,000 sexual assault cases reported to NSW police last year resulted in police charges, he said.

“It needs to be positive consent. How do we do that in this day and age? One option is with technology,” he wrote in Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph.