DMA issues best practice guidelines for Bluetooth

The Direct Marketing Association Mobile Marketing Council has published its first set of best practice guidelines specifically for the Bluetooth marketing sector.

The guidelines have been issued to provide the industry with clarification on the issue of “consent” when marketing to consumers and to encourage interest in Bluetooth as an effective marketing channel.

It has been widely assumed by government and the marketing industry that, like mobile phone marketing, Bluetooth marketing was covered by the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

However, after a review of the regulations in 2007, the Information Commissioner’s 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 ruling, the DMA Mobile Marketing Council has consulted with industry stakeholders to produce a set of best practice guidelines that focuses on 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 Authority’s CAP Code that state marketers can contact consumers only if they have received their explicit consent.

The Bluetooth marketing guidelines currently stand in place of government regulations and hold no legal power but 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.

Mark Brill, Chairman of the DMA Mobile Marketing Council, said:

“The power of Bluetooth to deliver rich content is widely recognised by marketers. However, until now there has 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.”

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