A Rose by Any Other Name: Bluespamming Cast as Bluecasting
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Call it what you like, the act of transmitting a message, image, sound, or any other data, to someone’s Bluetooth device via that Bluetooth, without their permission, is spamming – Bluespamming to be precise – pure and simple. (It’s also Bluejacking.)

However, that’s not what a company which mega-band Coldplay has contracted to bombard pedestrians and passengers in rail stations across London with unsolicited Bluetooth transmissions of band photos, screen savers, and sample tracks from their new album, X&Y, calls it. They call it “Bluecasting”, and they also call it a “Proximity Marketing System”. Oh gag.


The Proximity Spamming Sys..oh, excuse me… Proximity Marketing System is brought to you by the good, if somewhat misguided, folks at Filter UK, who claim that they are “dedicated to delivering cutting-edge mobile marketing, applications and content.” Whether you want it or not.

Of course, they aren’t the only ones Bluespamming, nor the only ones attempting to dress it up and call it something else (although they are the only ones to come up with as audacious and disgusting a term as “proximity marketing system”).
WideRay, developers of the Bluetooth promotional kiosks which are Bluespamming moviegoers on the U.S. side of the pond calls it “proximity services”. Apparently “proximity” is a big buzzword in the Bluespamming community.

So let’s hope that they understand this: any advertiser I find in the proximity of my Bluetooth device will have just lost me, and anyone I know, as a customer.

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Put that in your proximity and service it.

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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9 thoughts on “A Rose by Any Other Name: Bluespamming Cast as Bluecasting
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  1. Bluecasting has one more step “do you want to recieve messages from XXX”, which is asking the user for permission. So please that info and also before comenting on any new media get your facts right

    [Ed. note: That may or may not be true now but it certainly was not true when this article was written.]

  2. I think each situation warrants consideration – for me it’s best and worst of both worlds. If I’m in a cinema, sure i want the spam for discounts at the food store for ice creams, coke, etc. but when I was in Shanghai i was being spammed so hard i couldn’t get into my preferences to even turn off my bluetooth, i had to physically shut the phone off. I can tell you now i was swearing my head off then.

    in general, the user has control on whether they want to receive or not, and every marketing company is different – some are ethical and responsible in the way they do business, others are just dodgy and slimey, like the ones i encountered in shanghai.

  3. Alasdair — sorry, forgot that I had previously posted here as “Anonymous” and didn’t check the name/email boxes before posting. I am me.

  4. That “in the phonebook defense worked SO well for telmarketers in the USA that we now have state and federal DO NOT CALL lists. All you are is high tech telemarketing to and using the time honored British tactic of “impressing”, in this case a free person’s cellphone to do it and make money off of them w/o their permission. Further, I’m willing to bet YOUR cellphone are NOT set to discover so you will not be annoyed by your own cell phone spamming

  5. … and on the discoverable front, we ONLY attempt to talk to phones which are discoverable.

  6. Hi Coward, you’re missing the point. By making your handset discoverable you are permissioning ANYONE to send you something. It’s like putting your number in the phone book. The point I was making is that if by accident we attempt to send stuff to you that you do not want then there is a further “escape route” built in to the system. Fact is that BlueCasting is supported by traditional-media such as field marketing, posters, screens and floor-media letting you know there is a BlueCast zone. So if you don’t want it, don’t [a] turn bluetooth on [b] make handset discoverable and [c] walk into the zone and [d] accept the content. Easy.

  7. Alasdair: phones needn’t be discoverable: https://www.theinternetpatrol.com/bluetooth-spam-assault-moviegoers-say-hello-to-bluetooth-promotional-kiosks/#comment-2219

    Also, spamming me to ask if I want to opt out is still spamming me. And just out of curiosity, how would a customer complain? Do you spam them with contact info for who to complain to after they opt out?

  8. Thanks for the kind words! You will not that you need to turn Bluetooth on AND make your phone discoverable in order to get a BlueCast – and even then, if you say “no” we opt you out. Also, we’ve not had any complaints from consumers who’ve received free Coldplay content rather than paying networks £3.00 or so. Glad you like our copywriting so much.

  9. From The Rules of Spam:

    Rule #1 Spammers lie

    – Lexical Contradiction: Spammers will redefine any term in order to disguise their abuse of Internet resources.

    * Sharp’s Corollary: Spammers attempt to re-define “spamming” as that which they do not do.

    Complete “Rules of Spam”: http://bruce.pennypacker.org/spamrules.html

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