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Euro guidelines will allow Bluetooth spam

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The Mobile Marketing Association has published its guidelines for advertising pushed over Bluetooth connections, and considers anyone who hasn't opted out to be fair game for spammers.

The guidelines are now available for public review until 26 September, and take a distinct step beyond the UK's Direct Marketing Association (DMA) rules in that they consider any handset left in "discoverable" mode to be implicitly giving permission for pushed adverts - something the DMA explicitly rejects.

The document (pdf) has been produced by the "Proximity Committee", a part of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), and is mostly concerned with an explanation of what Bluetooth is and how it can effectively be used. It says that IMS Research reckons that in the US more than 60 per cent of handsets sport Bluetooth and 70 per cent in Europe, making it an attractive channel for pushed advertising.

But while the DMA's 2005 recommendations state that punters must sign up to receive messages, perhaps by downloading an application or "pairing" with a promotional service, the MMA reckons it's fair to push messages out to them, then ask them to opt out if they're not interested.

The DMA only represents the UK's junk mailers (as they hate being called), but the MMA claims to have a global reach. Both organisations publish guidelines members conform to in the hope of avoiding governmental legislation.

In the UK, Bluetooth has been used in several venues with considerable success and following the DMA guidelines, but it's hard to imagine that having your phone bleep every time you walk into a cinema or shop is going to endear anyone to the protocol. Phones are increasingly supplied with Bluetooth discoverable mode switched off, but while the technically literate might be happy to manage their own connections it's possible that most users won't understand the difference and will just leave Bluetooth switched off rather than risk being hounded by messages.

If you think the MMA should be taking a more DMA-style approach, or just avoiding Bluetooth altogether, then they'd love to hear your comments before 26 September. ®

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