Clarke biometric ID advocacy

Published 18 November 2005

The Blair government is pushing an ambitious plan for a U.K. biometric national ID. Critics of the plan raise privacy concerns, but also question the efficacy and accuracy of the technology. Charles Clarke, the home secretary, is bullish: Even on conservative estimates, the government believes the private sector would be the biggest financial winner from ID cards with up to “425m of benefits. That does not include more strategic gains. The ID card scheme would allow more and higher value business to be conducted online, as it would provide a very secure and highly reliable way of verifying identity. We are working with key players to develop the case for including this feature in the scheme. What about the cost to business? Of course, the cost of the scheme will be a concern to business. I reiterate that companies will not be forced into using the cards, but those who embrace the scheme will see the most benefits. On current estimates, the more sophisticated card readers will cost up to “750 but there will be lower-cost options. Compared with the multi-million pound costs of card fraud, it is a sensible investment.