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Tracking dogs equals tracking owners - The Database State

Behind a compulsory dog chipping law would be a database of dogs and dog owners. The database is what a compulsory dog chipping law is really about. Responsible (if uninformed) law abiding owners would most likely be the first in line to get their dogs chipped, believing they were doing the right thing. This would facilitate the construction of yet another government database.

As the surveillance watchdog website SpyBlog recently pointed out [1] :

It is ludicrous to suggest that drug dealers or those involved in dog fighting etc. will ever submit their real details to such a National Dog Owners Database.

If your dog gets stolen by professional thieves, then it will be easily "re-chipped", or "un-chipped" . There is no economic incentive for them to do so at present, but as soon as compulsion is inflicted, the criminals will easily tool up.

Like the UK's controversial (and failed) identity scheme [2] it would be the responsibility of the citizen to keep the database up to date or face penalties. The current DEFRA Dangerous Dogs consultation document [3] states:

Were microchipping to be made compulsory, then those who either failed to microchip their dog or keep records up to date would need to be subject to penalties. This would place a further responsibility on enforcement bodies.

In 2004 when a mandatory dog chipping law was proposed in New Jersey, USA an 'Animal Welfare Task Force Report' [4] revealed the state's desire to create a database of dogs and owners. The report said:

Without reliable data concerning companion animals, the size and scope of New Jersey's pet population can only be estimated, thus impairing the State's ability to plan for and respond to the problem of pet overpopulation. If, however, a microchip program were to provide accurate population and demographic data, the State could use this when projecting how much money would be needed for animal control and welfare purposes.

Note that when dog chipping is sold to the public it is not sold as a way of constructing a dog owners register. Animal chipping is yet another excuse to expand the Database State and allow the government (and other bodies with access to the database) to track people. In an age when databases are increasingly being used to profile people and determine patterns of behaviour, for applications such as pre-crime style predictive analysis, do we really want to give the government yet another opportunity to snoop on us?

The Dog Database Bill that ran out of time

In 2010 a Private Members Bill was introduced in the UK parliament [5] "to require dog-owners to have their dogs micro-chipped", the Bill also had proposals "to regulate access to dog ownership data".

Currently there are several privately run dog/owner databases in the UK including PETtrac, Identichip and Petlog which is the largest. A compulsory dog chipping/database law would place either the database or the data in the hands of the government and like the UK National ID scheme which has yet to be scrapped it will be up to the owner to keep the database up to date or face a penalty.

The 2010 dog chipping Bill ran out of parliamentary time but since our politicians decided that an act of parliament is not necessary and so dog chipping regulations have been introduced via secondary legislation (under the Animal Welfare Act!!). The draconian regulations will come into force in 2016 in most of the UK. Northern Ireland has had dog chipping regulations since 2012.

A dog database is like an ID card scheme for dogs but with the added sting that it's an ID scheme for the owners too.


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