LSE report: UK ID card plans too risky

By EDRi · March 24, 2005

The UK Government’s plans for a national identity card have come under
renewed criticism in a report published last week by the London School of

The report, “The Identity Project: An assessment of the UK Identity Cards
Bill & its implications”, featured contributions from experts across the
LSE and from businesses that would be involved in building any ID system.
The report concludes that the government’s proposals are “too complex,
technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lack a foundation of public
trust and confidence.” It also finds that the risks involved in the
government’s proposals are such that “the scheme should be regarded as a
potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of

The use of iris scans and fingerprints in the scheme is identified as a
particular risk. “The technology envisioned for this scheme is, to a large
extent, untested and unreliable. No scheme on this scale has been
undertaken anywhere in the world… A fully integrated national system of
this complexity and importance will be technologically precarious and
could itself become a target for attacks by terrorists or others.”
Meanwhile however the EU Council of Ministers is pushing for the creation
of an EU-wide biometric database.

The LSE report proved influential in this week’s House of Lords debate on
the government’s ID plans. Peers from all political parties called on the
government to abandon the legislation and to reconsider the issues raised
by the report in the next Parliament. As there is now very little time
left before the next election is expected to be called, it is likely that
the government will have little choice but to take this advice.

The Identity Project: An assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill & its implications (March 2005)

EDRI Open Letter to the European Parliament on Biometric Registration (26.11.2004)

House of Lords debate on the Identity Cards Bill (21.03.2005)

(Contribution by Ian Brown, EDRI board member)