New Bluetooth 4.2 spec looks to protect you from tracking beacons

New Bluetooth 4.2 spec looks to protect you from tracking beacons
Bluetooth is a huge part of the mobile world, but most people only have a very basic knowledge of what the technology is actually capable of. More recently, it has become fairly common knowledge that Bluetooth 4.0 brings a "low energy" mode, which is great for wearables. But, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) has just announced Bluetooth 4.2, which brings improvements to privacy, speed, and more.

The privacy portion of the update is specifically designed to give you more control when it comes to Bluetooth beacons that want to track your location. Bluetooth 4.2 would require users to give permission for that tracking to take place. The Bluetooth 4.2 spec also speeds up data transfer between devices by "up to 2.5 times" by allowing data packets to be bigger. And, Bluetooth 4.2 brings full support for accessing the internet directly over IPv6. 

Of course, almost no smartphones use Bluetooth 4.1 yet, so don't hold your breath for Bluetooth 4.2 to be a part of any mobile OS all that soon. Some of the features like the privacy protection can be enabled with a software update, but the faster transfer speeds would require new hardware. 

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3 Comments

1. GkMar

Posts: 1; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

Erm, the headline and article is just plain wrong - check your sources (also note the original post at Ars Technica is not talking about iBeacons at all). iBeacons by themselves don't track you, you have to install an appropriate app for that retailer on your phone and accept the location permission before that happens. The iBeacon hardware just sends - one way - an ID that the these apps on the phone can register to pick up. There's no data going from the phone to an iBeacon so there's nothing that can be used to track you. What this new feature in 4.2 does is allow extra privacy for different types of beacons which the phone does connect back to. However these are not iBeacons.

2. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

From what I understand it is something to do with the handshake protocol, which makes both sides of the whole iBeacons thing right, at least from how I understand it, right now there's a bluetooth 'to all' kinda function, which makes your phone react, that reaction provides a tiny bit of identification data, but enough to track your distance, this new option as I read it, would basically just tell your phone not to handshake with anything? That said, from what I understand some ibeacons can track you and some cannot? information seems to be all over the place?

3. varuntis1993

Posts: 49; Member since: Jun 13, 2012

Nexus 6 and Note 4 both have Bluetooth 4.1

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