Bluetooth marketing is in the news again, following the Information Commissioners Offices decision to update its guidance for marketers on the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. The updated guidance removes Bluetooth from the list of communication methods that require the users opt-in permission.
There has long been debate about whether Bluecasting, or Bluespamming as opponents of the practice prefer to call it, is legal or not. This ICOs decision looks set to settle the debate once and for all, but it is also causing concern among industry bodies and others concerned with privacy issues.
Nick Fuller, Chair of the Direct Marketing Associations Mobile Marketing Council, issued a statement which read:
Whilst it is understandable that the ICO sees Bluetooth as falling outside of the PECs (Privacy in Electronic Communications) legislation in terms of its underlying technology, it is important that the principles underlying the PECS are not lostWe recommend to our members to err on the side of caution when considering the permission implications of Bluetooth, but we would certainly like to have a more definitive legislative position. The question is under whose auspices now that it is not the ICO's.
Others are concerned that the ICOs decision may open the floodgates, and encourage brands that have looked at, but ultimately shied away from, Bluecasting, to take the plunge, creating an environment where mobile phone users will be bombarded with Bluetooth messages when they walk past shops, bus stops and billboards.
You can see more coverage of this issue, and join in the debate, here.
And you can view the latest version of the ICO guidance, updated at the beginning of October, here.