Bluespammer Bluecasting Responds to Us with the “She Asked for It” Defense
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Bluecasting, the company which bluespams those who walk by their “proximity marketing system”, has gone on the defense, apparently searching out sites where their ..uh.. “product” has been discussed, and providing responses.

It seems that their primary defense to attempting to stuff files into the gaping maw of any bluetooth-enabled device which is set to ‘discoverable’ is the “she asked for it” defense, which, while I can’t speak for the UK, doesn’t play particularly well over in the United States.


But don’t take my word for it. Here is what Alasdair Scott, “Creative Partner” for Bluecasting’s parent company, Filter UK, wrote in response to our earlier article on their Bluecasting model:

“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.”

So, Alasdair old buddy, basically what you are saying is that if, for some reason, any other reason, one has their bluetooth device turned on and set to ‘discoverable’, they are asking for it. Do I have that right?

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“By making your handset discoverable you are permissioning ANYONE to send you something. It’s like putting your number in the phone book.”

Let’s change just a couple of words, leaving your concept entirely intact, and see how it plays.

“By leaving your front door unlocked you are permissioning ANYONE to open your door. It’s like putting your address in the phone book.”

 

[Note, that would still be breaking and entering.]

“By leaving your keys in your car you are permissioning ANYONE to test drive your car. It’s like putting a sign on your car which says “drive me”.”

[Note, that would still be car theft.]

“By sporting a “Touch Me” shirt, you are permissioning ANYONE to come up and touch you. It’s like putting a sign on your body which says, well, “touch me”.”

[Note, that would still be the offense of battery.]

“By wearing a miniskirt in a bad neighborhood…

…naaaah..I’m not going to go there.

Let’s try this one:

“By leaving your computer turned on and connected to the Internet, you are permissioning ANYONE to connect to it and upload files to it. It’s like leaving your bluetooth phone set to ‘discoverable’.”

Ok, I’m growing bored with this game. If you want to see Alasdair’s comments in the wild, and the article to which he was responding, they are at A Rose by Any Other Name: Bluespamming Cast as Bluecasting.

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11 thoughts on “Bluespammer Bluecasting Responds to Us with the “She Asked for It” Defense
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  1. I hope her “she asked for itâ€? defense doesn’t go over well in the UK. = )

  2. Hey martinelli – I’m all up for lively debate about our service but think you’ve more than crossed the line with your last comment. I figured this was a useful discussion to engage in but your over-the-top posting has entirely negated all the valuable opinions left on this thread.

  3. Or really quite simply put:

    “By walking past me on the street, Alasdair Scott has given me the permission to shove a 6 inch knife through his ribs in the heart region and must take full responsibility for his death from that action.”

    Great defense for criminals and one that has been being used since the first Homo Whatever could pick up a club. Bluecasting and Bluespam, con men and liars all.

  4. “don’t walk into the zone” huh – so this guy is essentially appropriating public space in using this, expecting that people who don’t want his service will suddenly decide it is fine to be told they can’t walk into this “zone” unless they want to be crapped on.
    As usual, the lure of money makes a few people anti-social creeps.

  5. Greg, just playing Devil’s Advocate back to you here. You’ve got an error in your thought experiment about where the rights of privacy end: you’re using the law as it applies to “public figures” to the group of people “have a Bluetooth discoverable device.” Most of those people are not public figures. You’re also comparing publishing an image to directly messaging the individual (you don’t have the right to leave messages in Madonna’s purse just because you see her in public.)

    Then, in an example of “you so didn’t go there,” you compare it to airport security. In airport security, there is an implied consent between the two parties involved: there is no implied consent between a Bluespammer and the device. Unless you treat “I left my device discoverable” as some kind of consent.

    It’s the ethical logic that Filter is using that is faulty, not the technology or the law. I’m not calling for a law about it (heck, I’d settle for one on parasite ware and drive-by-notificationless-installs first), but there’s no reason to legitimize it without questioning the ethical logic behind it. Even the ANA and the DMA have ethics codes.

    Arguing about it does serve a useful purpose: fewer people spam because businesses realize that spamming has brand consequences. So we’re shaping opinion here, which is a valuable thing for an argument to be producing.

    So I’m not trying to emotionalize it. Let me try the technical problem: if you approve the BlueTooth connection to Bluecaster, you’ve given nearly unresistricted access to your device. They could copy all of your files. They could start using your internet connectivity to perform other tasks. They could install applications on your device. If a company starts out with the attitude that “if we can do it, then we’re allowed to do it” than there’s alot they could allow themselves to do (like, say, sending a copy of your address book to their webserver.)

    To me, it’s suspiciously like tricking your way into someone else’s WiFi router: potential harmless, but also potentially very harmful (as anyone who’s used WiFi in a hotel with an active firewall can tell you.)

  6. I think it’s time to paint a “You are entering a robbery-is-not-illegal zone” circle outside Greg’s house, office front door, maybe the bus stop he waits at on the way to the office, etc. We’ll post a nice big sign which details how by walking into the zone he agrees to not treat any dispossession of his wallet as theft.

  7. Just playing devil’s advocate here for a moment…

    First, just by starting the “By wearing a miniskirt in a bad neighborhood…” statement, you *went* there. By the time you said “I’m not going to go there,” you already had.

    Using the “it’s the same as saying ‘she asked for it'” argument makes this an emotional argument, and your points are similarly emotional. Comparing sending someone bluetooth spam to someone stealing your car or raping a woman is like calling someone who is peevish about grammar a “grammar nazi”. It diminishes the violence and horror of what the Nazis did. The nazis were murderers, not hall monitors. And to compare these mosquitoes on the butt of telecommunications to rapists diminishes the violence and horror of the act of rape.

    Where I believe the argument really hits is on the right to privacy. Think about how the tabloids take and publish unflattering photos of celebrities. The argument (and legal at that) is that by being out in public and being a person of interest, they have no *reasonable* expectation of privacy. I, having been a photo editor, used to get angry agents/managers demanding we take down photos from premieres where the celeb actually stopped and posed for the paparazzi. They’d say “that picture was posted without our authorization” and the response was “your authorization was not and is not needed”.

    Now, I’m not saying this is an excuse to spam, but it does show that there is a line at which a reasonable expectation of privacy ends. And it seems to me that the argument the spammers are making is not the “she asked for it” argument, but the one I’d make with angry managers, which is if you do certain things, certain reasonable expectations of privacy are removed or eroded.

    If you buy a plane ticket, go to the airport, and take actions necessary to board the plane, you agree to a wide variety of invasive acts to be performed (x-raying and even opening your luggage, “wanding”, etc.) You’re not “asking for it” (no one asks “could I please go over there, take my shoes off, and stand with my arms our while you wand me?”) but you gave up a reasonable expectation of privacy.

    Spamming, airport security, and certain freedoms of the press all depend on the drawing of the line on where a reasonable expectation of privacy begins and ends, and what actions cause the “victim” to be subject to unwanted communication, unwanted touching, unwanted inspection of your luggage, unwanted phone calls, unwanted publication of your photo…

    Arguing these things with someone who benefits from drawing that line in their favor and to your disadvantage is like arguing politics and religion. Since it’s a matter of opinion, you won’t win. If you’re talking to people who hate spam, you’re preaching to the choir. If you’re talking to Bluetooth spammers, you may as well be trying to convert a Born-Again Christian to worshipping a Hawaiin volcano god.

    What you need is case law. If a court says that people do have a reasonable expectation of privacy in these circumstances, then the bluespammers are done for. But it could just as easily be decided that walking through a clearly marked bluespam zone with your phone on and discoverable is the same as walking down the red carpet at a movie premiere.

    Rather than try to emotionalize the anti-bluespam argument, or even argue it at all, you need to get a victim to be lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit and some lawyers willing to take it on.

    Telling bluespammers they’re using the same argument that rapists use will not stop bluespam. Suing them and winning will.

  8. I’d like to propose that the difference between Bluecasting and Bluespamming is who discovers who: if I discover a device and initiate contact with it, I’m granting a certain level of permission to interact with it. Let’s say if I confirm that I want it on the kiosk and portable device, we’ve got the equivalent of “double confirmation”. If they discover my device and I get an unsolicited “do you want to trust device X” it’s either a hack attempt or Bluespam.

  9. You missed the most important analogy: “By making your e-mail address discoverable you are permissioning ANYONE to send you something. It’s like putting your number in the phone book.â€?

    Yep: that’s essentially the defense spammers have used forever. “Hey: you put your address on your web site, that means you WANT e-mail! And boy, do we have this great sex enhancement cream….”

    Spammers are spammers are scum are slime, no matter whether they’re sending their garbage by e-mail, pounding out URL-laden spew on feedback forms like this, or dumping their crap on my cell phone. Clue to Mr. Scott: It’s WRONG, and attempting to justify it is lying to yourself, since WE aren’t buying it. Dig?

  10. Back to the Rules of Spam. Previously we highlighted Sharp’s Corollary to rule #1 (“Spammers Lie”), “Spammers attempt to re-define “spamming” as that which they do not do.” Today we look at Rule #2, “If a spammer seems to be telling the truth, see Rule #1.”. Of interest in this case is Crissman’s Corollary to rule 2: “A spammer, when caught, blames his victims.”

    So far, Bluespamming^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hcasting is definitely rule 1 and 2 compliant, I’m sure there’s an abundance of rule 3 (“Spammers are stupid”) compliance as well. Perhaps it’s time to break out the spam bingo cards?

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