DMA Issues Bluetooth Guidelines

The Direct Marketing Associations (DMA) Mobile Marketing Council has published what it says it the first ever set of best practice guidelines for the Bluetooth marketing sector. The DMA says the guidelines have been issued to provide the industry with much needed clarification on the issue of consent when marketing to consumers, and to encourage interest in Bluetooth as an effective marketing channel.
The DMA notes that Bluetooth marketing was originally assumed by government and the marketing industry to be covered by the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations 2003. After a review of the regulations in 2007, however, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) issued a statement that Bluetooth is exempt from the rules because it does not use a mobile network to broadcast data.  
Following the ICOs ruling, the DMA Mobile Marketing Council consulted widely with industry stakeholders to produce a set of best practice guidelines that has at its heart the need to obtain consumer consent on a proactive basis. This makes the consent guidelines for Bluetooth marketing consistent with those for mobile marketing as laid out in the DMA Code of Practice and Advertising Standards Authoritys CAP Code, that state marketers can contact consumers only if they have received their explicit consent.
The Bluetooth marketing guidelines currently stand in lieu of government regulations. While they hold no legal power, the Direct Marketing Commission, the independent body responsible for monitoring compliance with the DMA Code of Practice, could impose sanctions on member companies found to be in breach of the guidelines.
The power of Bluetooth to deliver rich content is widely recognised by marketers, says Mark Brill, Chairman of the DMA Mobile Marketing Council. However, until now, there has (sic) been no formal best practice guidelines produced specifically for the channel. Our guidelines draw a distinction between what is legally acceptable and what is true to the principles of permission as expected by the consumer. We believe that these guidelines will be of practical help to brands and agencies considering using this medium and looking to navigate through the many issues surrounding its use.
The Mobile Marketing Association is also working on a set of Bluetooth marketing guidelines. MMA Europe managing director Paul Berney says these should be ready around May and that they would be minimum pan-European, but we are aiming for global in scope.
Berney adds: We will certainly view the DMA guidelines with interest and we are supportive of any initiative by anyone to help clarify the issues around Bluetooth marketing.
The Bluetooth marketing best guidelines are now included as part of the Councils best practice guidelines for mobile marketing.
The DMA's guidelines can be downloaded here.