LSE researchersUK biometric ID scheme to cost £30 billion

Published 21 November 2005

The British Parliament has narrowly supported the Blair government’s ambitious national biometric ID scheme, with the plan’s critics coming mainly from two camps; Those who are concerned about the threats to privacy, and those who question the efficacy and accuracy of the technology. Now there is a third concern raised: The cost of the system. Researchers at the London School of Economics (LSE) will report that the cost of joining up computers and databases across Whitehall with new software may add as much as “10 billion to the government’s original estimate of “18 billion. If the cost of a nationwide identity card scheme would indeed reach about “30 billion, this would mean that the cost of an individual card would be almost “500. Home Secretary Charles Clarke has already rubbished the LSE study as “total nonsense.”

The Home Office is estimating that the scheme, which will place ten fingerprints, two iris scans, and a digitalized face-recognition photograph on a machine-readable RFID barcode, will cost only “5.8 billion or “93 for each person. People age, and since some people’s fingerprints are subject to subtle changes (as is the case with guitar players, brick layers, and surgeons, for example), experts argue that, to be effective, the biometric ID will have to be upgraded every five to ten years, meaning that an average family may have to pay for ID cards up to “1,000-2,000 over a decade.

-read more in this report