Your phone knows when you're at an abortion clinic and will serve you pro-life ads

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Why Is Planned Parenthood So Controversial?

A Boston advertiser is sending pro-life ads to women while they're inside abortion clinics. Yes: while women are in clinic waiting rooms, waiting for medical help.

As reported by Rewire, Copley Advertising CEO John Flynn thought to use mobile surveillance technology — which normally tracks whether you're interested in buying things like a car or shoes — to follow women's activities and find out who might consider abortion. The "mobile geo-fencing" technology sends anti-abortion ads to a woman's phone after she enters an abortion clinic; it can also share names and addresses of women seeking abortion (and abortion providers) to anti-choice groups.

In the past few months, Flynn has targeted 140 abortion clinics in New York City; Pittsburgh; St. Louis; Richmond, Virginia; and Columbus, Ohio — all for Bethany Christian Services, the largest adoption agency in the U.S. He also tried targeting methadone clinics and other abortion facilities. Another client is RealOptions, a Northern California crisis pregnancy-center network.

The only way to block the targeted ads is by leaving a smartphone at home or in the car, or turning off a phone's GPS and closing all apps before entering a clinic, Rewire reports.

Lawyers said that weak privacy and data laws allow the technology to be "perfectly legal"; experts noted the potential for others to abuse this kind of personal data collection, citing the cyberattack on the website Ashley Madison as an example. "It's unfortunate, but any woman who plans to visit an affected Planned Parenthood, or anyone who works for Planned Parenthood, should be afraid," a digital marketing expert told Rewire.

Learn more about the abortion debate in America:

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Your phone knows when you're at an abortion clinic and will serve you pro-life ads
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Girl holds up hand-lettered sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Adrienne Luendo (rt) of Stop Patriarchy debates with anti-abortion protesters. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
AKRON, OH- SEPTEMBER 8: Donald Wilson, 64, protests against abortion in front of the Planned Parenthood Health Center on September 8, 2015 in Akron, OH. (Photo by Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images)
TINLEY PARK, IL - JULY 31: Stages of a fetus are displayed at the Illinois Right To Life a table while Republican presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee speaks at the Freedom's Journal Institute for the Study of Faith and Public Policy 2015 Rise Initiative on July 31, 2015 in Tinley Park, Illinois. The event was billed as a 'frank discussion on defending the sanctity of life from conception to natural death'. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson attends a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
A pro-choice activists holds a placard in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, January 22, 2015, as she and others await the pro-choice activists with the March For Life. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual March for Life rally on January 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-choice activists block the road as US Capitol Police escort the March For Life's front of the US Supreme Court (rear) in Washington, DC, on January 22, 2015. Tens of thousands of Americans who oppose abortion are in Washington for the annual March for Life, marking the 42nd anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Razor grass and pro-choice signs limit the view of patients entering the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Mississippi's only abortion clinic will likely remain open at least until the fall, because the U.S. Supreme Court is taking no action until then on a dispute over a state law that could close it. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, college students and abortion rights activists hold signs during a rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol, in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court refused on Monday, June 29, 2015, to allow Texas to enforce restrictions that would force 10 abortion clinics to close. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)
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