A Brookline company that has figured out how to beam mobile-phone ads at people in very specific geographic locations today agreed not to use the technology to target people sitting in Massachusetts health facilities.
The agreement with the Massachusetts Attorney General's office only covers Massachusetts facilities. John Flynn's Copley Advertising was using its "geofencing" technology at clinics in New York City, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Columbus, OH, the AG's office reports:
The advertisements included text such as “Pregnancy Help,” “You Have Choices,” and “You’re Not Alone” that, if clicked, took the consumer to a webpage with information about abortion alternatives and access to a live web chat with a “pregnancy support specialist.” Copley has represented that it has not yet engaged in geofencing campaigns near reproductive health clinics in Massachusetts, although it has the ability to do so.
In a statement, Attorney General Maura Healey, who said the technology represents a potential privacy violation, at least under Massachusetts consumer-protection laws, said:
While geofencing can have positive benefits for consumers, it is also a technology that has the potential to digitally harass people and interfere with health privacy. Consumers are entitled to privacy in their medical decisions and conditions. This settlement will help ensure that consumers in Massachusetts do not have to worry about being targeted by advertisers when they seek medical care.