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The technology behind the UK government's controversial ID card must be "almost foolproof" for the scheme to be effective, the head of the Metropolitan Police has warned. Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair defended his pre-election support for ID cards in an appearance at the London Assembly while expressing increased skepticism about the technology.

"ID cards can only be the answer if the recognition of them is almost perfect," Sir Ian said, the BBC reports, adding that the technology had to be "as close to foolproof as possible".

"Identity cards are only going to work if we have a biometric answer - that may be iris recognition but it is unlikely to be facial recognition because that changes because of diet and beards and everything else. There are a whole pile of logistics that have to be got right."

Sir Ian's skepticism seems to be informed by Passport Office trials which showed that black people and pensioner, for example, were sometimes not reliably recognised by iris scans, one of the tested biometric indicators. Nonetheless his belief that ID cards are important tools in the fight against terrorism or crimes such as identity theft remains unwavering.

He said it was dangerous for the state not to know the identity of some people and argued the case of Kamel Bourgass, the convicted ricin plotter whose identity remains unknown, proved his point. "In the aftermath of the Bourgass trial with commentators saying this proved there was not a threat to the UK, it was the job of the Commissioner to say this was a real and present threat," he said. ®

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