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Court slams HP Israel ID card bid

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HP has lost a potentially lucrative bid to become the major supplier of smart identity cards in Israel after a court tossed out the company's proposal, saying it did no adhere to local laws.

The Jerusalem District Court on Thursday blocked HP's deal with the Interior ministry estimated to be worth between $22 million to $44 million. The court sided with rivals EDS Israel, IBM Israel and Beeri Printers, which had lost out on the contract, reports Ha'aretz. Two main points of contention for the court were that HP had picked a smart card manufacturer that was not one of the company's subcontractors and that the card maker was based outside of Israel.

"The tender's winner did not fulfill the minimal criteria, including in that it suggested a card producer that is not a subcontractor, that it presented an inappropriate standard mark, appended a qualified and unclear declaration from its insurer, and proposed a card producer that is controlled by a foreign country," wrote the vice president of the Jerusalem District Court, Moussia Arad.

Israel first started taking bids for its first smart ID card rollout in late November of 2001 and eventually had 11 offers to consider, according to Ha'aretz.

Other reports note that HP has already put up a substantial investment in developing the project. The loss of the deal will likely result in large delays rolling the smart cards out. This is a security concern, as officials are trying to improve on easily forged laminated ID cards.

The smart ID card business has become a major point of interest for IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems and others, as governments look to update their technology and strengthen authentication systems. ®

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