Feeds

ID cards technology is ready, says UK minister

But we're still adding up the bill

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

UK government ministers gave a vote of confidence to the technology underpinning its controversial ID card scheme, as proposals for the national scheme were reintroduced in Parliament on Wednesday. The scheme will link personal information such as names and addresses to biometrics - a computer scan of a person's iris, face or fingerprint. From 2008, UK passport applicants will also receive an identity card, under plans outlined in the government's ID Card Bill.

Junior Home Office minister Andy Burnham told reporters that biometric technology is already used in identity documents in countries such as Hong Kong, the Philippines and Belgium. These are much smaller deployments than envisaged in the UK, where government IT schemes have a famously patchy record.

Burnham acknowledged there had been problems in the past but said the phased introduction of the scheme, and support from the IT industry throughout the planning process, would help a smooth introduction. He said the technology is ready for widespread deployment.

Under the Identity Cards Bill, ID cards would be phased in from 2008 before been made compulsory at some later (as yet unspecified) date. The government estimates running costs will amount to £584m a year - or £93 per card, around 9 per cent up on November 2004 estimates of £85 per card. The government says 70 per cent of these costs will be spent to introduce biometric passports in any case, arguing now is the perfect time to introduce ID cards.

The reasons - and emphasis - behind "why we need ID cards" varies each time we visit the Home Office. This time around guarding against identity theft, a crime estimated to cost £1.3bn a year, was highlighted as the top reason ahead of strengthening immigration controls, guarding against the misuse of public services and (last year's number one) fighting organised crime and terrorism.

It's questionable whether ID cards can play any meaningful role in combating ID fraud but Burnham has sticking to his guns on this point. Banks would pay for verification services based on ID card technology that left customers less open to fraud, he said. ®

Bootnote

The Register arrived for press conference fashionably late and were further detained as reception by a Home Office security guard who demanded an NuJ card as identification. A passport, with a US-issued biometric visa inside, and a Register business card were not enough for our man. He called a press officer who arrived quickly and helpfully ushered us into the meeting.

Related stories

UK ID scheme rides again, as biggest ID fraud of them all
EU biometric visa trial opts for the tinfoil sleeve
ID cards: Part II
Home Office defends ID card plans (again)

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Webcam hacker pervs in MASS HOME INVASION
You thought you were all alone? Nope – change your password, says ICO
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
Privacy bods offer GOV SPY VICTIMS a FREE SPYWARE SNIFFER
Looks for gov malware that evades most antivirus
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Internet Security Threat Report 2014
An overview and analysis of the year in global threat activity: identify, analyze, and provide commentary on emerging trends in the dynamic threat landscape.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.