Massachusetts Enforcement Action Prohibits Ad Company from ‘Geofencing’ Around Healthcare Facilities

A digital advertising company that was hired to use mobile geofencing technology to target women entering reproductive health facilities has been prohibited from doing so in Massachusetts pursuant to a settlement announced by the Massachusetts Attorney General in early April.

The company, Copley Advertising, was hired in the spring of 2015 to direct targeted ads using geofencing to “abortion-minded women” sitting in waiting rooms at health clinics. Copley had set mobile geofences at or near reproductive health centers in several major cities across the United States. When a consumer entered the geofenced area near these locations, Copley tagged the consumer’s device ID and served advertisements to the consumer’s device for up to 30 days. The ads 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.” The Massachusetts Attorney General alleged that Copley’s activities constituted unfair acts in the conduct of trade or commerce which are prohibited under Massachusetts law.

Under the settlement, Copley has undertaken not to use geofencing technology at or near Massachusetts healthcare facilities to infer the health status, medical condition, or medical treatment of any individual.