We’ve been hearing a lot about animal id. It’s not a new issue, although the debate about a mandatory national animal id program is certainly cranking up with the release last week by Sec. of Ag Johanns’ “thinking paper.” Just what the heck is a thinking paper anyway? Could somebody define that? You’ve gotta love the language that comes out of Washington, DC.
WASHINGTON, May 5, 2005–Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns today unveiled a thinking paper and timeline on the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) and called on agriculture producers, leaders, and industry partners to provide feedback. Both documents are available on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s NAIS Web site at http://www.usda.gov/nais and will be published in the Federal Register.
Here’s an example of how what happens in Washington has an impact on agrimarketing. You’ve got all these companies, organizations and state and federal agencies creating and marketing their versions of an id program. What ultimately gets decided in Washington and turned into law will directly affect them. Maybe their system doesn’t meet the requirements for example.
But even beyond the impact a legislated animal id program will have on the companies and organizations who market the products and services that will implement such a program is a bigger question in my mind.
If you’ve participated in any farmer discussion on this topic you know a big concern is information privacy. How much of it are we willing to give up to become “safer?” We’re being told a system like this is necessary to prevent or contain disease outbreaks which will surely happen. To properly implement it though a lot of new information will potentially be put into the hands of government. But it’s only animals you say. Wrong. Read on.
Are you familiar with the Real ID Act? You should be. It passed the House this week in Washington. One of the goals of this bill is to make it more difficult for illegal aliens to obtain a driver’s license. Sounds good on the surface. It’s all in the name of safety after all. But look at a little segment from the bill:
(b) Minimum Document Requirements- To meet the requirements of this section, a State shall include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver’s license and identification card issued to a person by the State:
(1) The person’s full legal name.
(2) The person’s date of birth.
(3) The person’s gender.
(4) The person’s driver’s license or identification card number.
(5) A digital photograph of the person.
(6) The person’s address of principle residence.
(7) The person’s signature.
(8) Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.
(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.
The key phrase is “common machine-readable technology.” That could very well be RFID chips! I’m sure the Department of Homeland Security will have some input on this. This is from House Bill H.R. 418, which is now going to the senate and President, where it’s expected to pass, possibly this week.
States are required by the law to make sure all their data is released to the federal government. There are provisions to allow for federal funding to states to help implement the new requirements within 3 years.
Although I can see many uses for this in animals besides just safety issues, I’m not real excited about this for us humans. I certainly don’t want one hanging from my ear!
What do you think? I’d love to see your comments.