BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Science/Nature  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Thursday, 4 July, 2002, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Technology trips smart card plans
ID card model
The ID cards would carry a wealth of data
It could take years to develop the kind of smart ID cards the UK Government is keen to introduce and they are likely to compound the problems of illegal immigration, fraud and identity theft, say experts.

Home Secretary David Blunkett has indicated he favours introducing such cards, called entitlement cards, and has launched a six-month consultation.

Civil liberties groups have vehemently opposed the idea, stating that it will turn citizens into suspects.

The government says that by bringing existing identification such as driving licences and passports together, the system could be made efficient.

Card integrity

Human rights group Privacy International has warned that any ID card will be exploited by criminal groups with an increasing degree of technical know-how.


What is needed is a card which doesn't necessarily identify you but has sufficient authentication to make the process very efficient

Tim Conway, Intellect
"The technology gap between governments and organised crime has now narrowed to such an extent that even the most highly secure cards are available as blanks, weeks after their introduction," said Privacy International's Director Simon Davies.

"Whenever governments attempt to introduce an ID card, it is always based on the aim of eliminating false identity.

"The higher the stated integrity of a card, the greater is its value to criminals and illegal immigrants," he said.

Return to basics

It could be years before smart ID cards came to fruition said one expert, who advised the government on the ID scheme.

Tim Conway, Industry Affairs Director at trade body Intellect, told Computing magazine that even the most basic of cards would take three years to develop.

The government favours computerised cards that could store a photograph, fingerprints and personal information including name and address.

It is estimated that basic plastic cards would cost 1.3bn, with the bill for cards able to hold data like fingerprints and iris patterns put at 3.1bn.

Mr Conway believes resources would be better spent on developing a card which would benefit citizens by making it easier to access government services.

The first step should be to bring together all the different identifications used by citizens, such as National Insurance and NHS numbers he said.

"What is needed is a card which doesn't necessarily identify you but has sufficient authentication to make the process very efficient," he told Computing.


Recent stories

Background/analysis
See also:

03 Jul 02 | UK Politics
04 Jul 02 | UK Politics
03 Jul 02 | UK
03 Jul 02 | UK Politics
03 Jul 02 | UK Politics
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Science/Nature stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Science/Nature stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes