Massachusetts Attorney General: Anti-Choice Groups Can’t Spy on ‘Abortion-Minded Women’
The Attorney General of Massachusetts announced this morning that she has reached a settlement agreement with the Boston-based firm hired by anti-choice groups to target “abortion-minded women” while they were visiting medical clinics, through tracking the location of the women’s cell phones.
Rewire in May 2016 first reported the activities of the firm, Copley Advertising, and its owner, John Flynn. We found that Flynn had been hired by anti-choice groups in California, including a network of fake clinics, commonly called crisis pregnancy centers, to target women at abortion clinics and other locations, in an effort to send them advertisements for the anti-choice groups even as the women were sitting inside the abortion clinic.
Flynn used a technique called “geo-fencing,” which allows marketers to see the mobile devices within specified geographical boundaries, and to marry the unique identifiers associated with each device to reams of data about the person using it. The combination of location with demographic information, as well as browsing and purchasing history, allows marketers to learn and infer astonishing amounts of information about people, often without their knowledge.