The Heated Debate on Geo-Fencing

All Things Considered on NPR recently discussed geofencing on the show, bringing up this heated digital marketing topic all over again. More specifically, the use of the technology with legal marketing and angering many by using the phrase “digital ambulance chasers.“

According to the Oxford Dictionary, Geofencing is “the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.”

It’s a technology popularly used by law enforcement to track individuals with ankle monitors under house arrest. But in recent years marketing companies have been using the technology for digital advertising purposes, creating this “digital fence” for businesses to reach potential clients on their mobile devices the moment they leave a specific location.

The topic has caused quite a commotion. Some marketing agencies no longer offer this service because they believe it is unethical. While others welcome law firm geofencing business, in a variety of areas of law, with open arms. Streams of online comments across the web reveal individuals complaining of Consumer Protection Act violations. And others claim it is simply the price you pay when you allow location tracking on your cell phone and/or cell phone apps.

At this point in time the geofencing digital marketing technique is not illegal. However, if you are a personal injury lawyer geo-targeting hospitals, a criminal defense lawyer geo-targeting jails, an immigration lawyer geo-targeting detention facilities, etc., this will be a topic to keep an eye on.

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