October 10th, 2007

Dumb Regulators To Legalize Bluetooth Spam

By Rob Beschizza
Wired

Like the punchline to a bad joke, the U.K. Information Comissioner’s Office has determined that local privacy laws, designed to limit unsolicited marketing messages, do not apply to Bluetooth. This is because “text messages or emails” are not “covered” by the technology.

It’s a wonderful little mental game: Bluetooth can send and receive such data, sure, but as it is not, by their definition, a “public electronic communications network,” it’s O.K. by them to spam it even though spam is clearly a public electronic communication!

Who is out there asking for Bluetooth to avoid coverage under the privacy laws that apply to everything else? Exactly what constituency wants this deceptive and unwarranted distinction to be made? And, if I may be so bold as to anticipate the answers to these questions, why is it so easy for spammers to manipulate these regulators?

Of all the things you read about concerning stupid regulatory cock-ups, this is the nightmare scenario. Whatever Bluetooth-capable thing you have, just imagine it being a passive outlet for any marketing delivery system it moves within range of, the only remedy being to turn it off or cripple its functionality. Does your Bluetooth device have a screen? Does it have a speaker? 

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