Feeds

US Dept of Agriculture rubbishes Amish anti-RFID push

'Buttons are proud and vain, not plain'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Amish farmers attempts to prevent RFID tags being used in cattle have been attacked by the US Department of Agriculture on the grounds that it's not mandatory, and therefore can't be considered a breach of religious rights.

The USDA has recommended the dismissal of the case, Wired reports, and points out that the plan for tagging cattle is voluntary. Small farmers were expected to be excluded, so, argues the submission (pdf), there can be no imposition on the religious beliefs of the Amish.

There are seven named plaintiffs in the case (pdf), each of whom "believes that God and the Bible authorize him with dominion over all animals on the planet and prohibit him from taking the 'mark'". All except one: Andrew Schneider apparently doesn't share these beliefs, but is still one of the seven for reasons that aren't clear.

The Amish claim that despite their ability to opt out of the scheme its very existence threatens their religious beliefs as it is part of an ongoing attempt to number every living thing - they point out that the long term aim of the project is 100 per cent participation, so what's voluntary now may become mandatory in the future.

They also argue that tagging every farm animal for the sake of disease control is pointless when the diseases are spread by wild animals that have proved remarkably reluctant to be RFID tagged. The action is being taken at a state level, against the Michigan authorities who are implementing the plan, with the claim that the state is operating as a "puppet" of the USDA.

In response the USDA points out that farmers, including Amish ones, are already using numbered metal studs to track animals and that their approach is technology neutral: "The USDA encourages the use of RFID tags for livestock, as recommended by the cattle working group, the USDA does not require the use of such tags for animal identification."

Civil liberties are often eroded under the premise of being "optional", leaving activists with less grounds for a fight once the impositions are quietly made mandatory years later.

The UK government attempted to introduce ID cards that way, serving to demonstrate what happens if no one takes on the "option". It's hard to see how replacing a metal tag with a radio one can be a religious offence, but the same could be said for most things proscribed by the various theological creeds. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Canadian ISP Shaw falls over with 'routing' sickness
How sure are you of cloud computing now?
Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum
Actually it's a nifty trick - at least you'll pay for what you get
Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'
Network throws hat into ring with Linux-powered handsets
Fifteen zero days found in hacker router comp romp
Four routers rooted in SOHOpelessly Broken challenge
New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first
'Very disruptive' new rates to be revealed next week
US TV stations bowl sueball directly at FCC's spectrum mega-sale
Broadcasters upset about coverage and cost as they shift up and down the dials
Trans-Pacific: Google spaffs cash on FAST undersea packet-flinging
One of 6 backers for new 60 Tbps cable to hook US to Japan
Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app
An app and service where other people 'see' for you
UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom
Regulator swallows this line and parrots it back out at us. What are they playing at?
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.