Bluespamming is on the rise – Beware!

Increasingly, we are seeing Bluetooth technology being used for the purposes of direct marketing to mobile phones.
There are options for those that do not wish to receive direct marketing via Bluetooth – you can turn the Bluetooth on your mobile phone or other device off or “hide” your phone. However, many will take the view that they should not have to take such steps to avoid receiving what is termed as “Bluespam”.

Legal Speak
Whilst at first glance Bluespam appears to fall into the same category as unsolicited direct marketing via email, telephone and SMS spam (all of which are caught by the terms of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive (Directive 2002/58/EC), there is legal uncertainty as to whether the Directive does catch it.

In short, the Directive captures communications over “public” networks, but at least arguably, the only network used in Bluespam is that created on an ad hoc basis between the transmitting device and the handset in the hands of the recipient. Hardly, public.
Bluetooth Marketing
A recent article from highlights:
If you go to a movie in New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles, that vibration you feel in your pocket may not be someone trying to pick your pocket (or, hey, something else) but may be a bluetooth promotional kiosk in the movie lobby sending something to your cell phone via bluetooth.

Being tested in the three cities, the kiosks search out bluetooth-enabled phones and send them a message, telling the movie-goer that they can come to the kiosk and download free promotional trailers, ringtones, and wallpaper for their phone.
For example, people attending a showing of “Kingdom of Heaven” were offered a ringtone which announced “Protect the stones!”
Others, attending “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”, were offered cellphone wallpaper of either Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.
Explains Grant Wakelin, CEO of WideRay, developers of the bluetooth promotional kiosk, “Everyone in the entertainment space is looking for creative new ways to access consumers.” (Which is of course exactly what Tivo charging advertisers to help them attract Tivo customers’ eyes is all about.)
ID Theft Protect owner, Julian Evans suggests that you should turn off your bluetooth when not in use and also set mode to “not discoverable”.
Project Bluespam
Recently ID Theft Protect conducted bluetooth research at a number of UK motorway service stations. We were amazed to find 1 in 5 people had their bluetooth on and in “discoverable” mode. Also interesting and more worrying, we sent a executable file (funny animation) to a number of these mobile (cell) phones and 1 in 3 accepted the file!
Julian’s simple top tips:

1. Turn off bluetooth when not in use
2. Make sure cellphone (mobile) is in “non-discoverable” mode
3. If someone you do not know sends you a bluetooth message or file – do not accept it

At ID THEFT PROTECT we take your personal privacy very seriously.
To protect your mobile (cell) phone privacy we suggest you read the following article: Txt2lock product review
(c) IDTP, Julian, Mr IDTP
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One Response to Bluespamming is on the rise – Beware!

  1. Anonymous says:

    how easy is it to send a virus via bluetooth? Even so – alarming to know that people accept files from complete strangers – explains why people open scam emails and get caught out!

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