The chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service has said the ID cards database will not be completely secure.
James Hall said on Thursday that, after a string of high-profile data breaches in the past year, people should be concerned about the security of their personal information held by the government.
"You would rightly be concerned about the integrity and security of the information held about you," said Hall in a speech at the Homeland & Border Security Conference 2008 in London. "The issue has been heightened by recent events. I won't stand in front of you and say there will never ever be a breach of information."
However, Hall went on to say that the Identity and Passport Service (IPS), which will administer the scheme, was developing a "robust regime" of security for the proposed National Identity Register that includes putting in place information assurance, business processes and the "right people".
Conservative peer Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister and security adviser to David Cameron, criticised the government's database plans, saying that the National Identity Register is unnecessary and open to abuse.
Neville-Jones said an incoming Conservative government would discontinue plans for the National Identity Register, and instead use a "disaggregated system" of databases. The peer outlined Conservative plans for government databases and said strict data-protection principles would be applied.
"For the passport database, we do not wish for social information to be taken and used for random purposes," Neville-Jones told ZDNet.co.uk. "The use would be strictly governed and used for the purpose for which it was gathered."
However, the peer said that an incoming Conservative government would not alter government plans substantially. "We're not going to turn anything upside down," said Neville-Jones. "There will be no massive reorganisation of policy response."
Neville-Jones said that the Conservatives would support the police DNA database for convicted criminals, but would discontinue the current regime of holding the details of people who have been arrested but not charged.
Campaigners against ID cards said it was "no surprise" that the government would not be able to safeguard citizen data in the National Identity Register.
"When the man in charge of ID cards admits that the scheme will not be secure, it's time the government dropped ID cards and took a responsible approach to the information it holds," a No2ID spokesperson told ZDNet.co.uk on Friday.