ID cards 'may still fail'

Summary:Government U-turn on databases may not be enough to save project

The government's ID card rethink is a step towards common sense — but the controversial plan still risks failure, according to academics.

The London School of Economics (LSE) Identity Project has been a leading critic of the ID card project but the team said it welcomes the shift in the government's position.

Dr Edgar A Whitley, the LSE team's research co-ordinator, said the new action plan represents a "total rethink" of the original plans that were proposed by the Home Office.

He said the LSE team had criticised those original plans as too complex, technically unsafe, overly prescriptive and lacking in public trust.

"Despite their earlier hostility, the government now clearly agrees with us and the LSE team welcomes the marked shift in the government's position that this Action Plan indicates," he said in a statement.

The government has trimmed back its plans, ditching a single mega-database to hold all ID-card information, and shelving the use of iris-scanning biometrics.

Simon Davies, a visiting fellow of the Information Systems group at LSE, said that while the new scheme distributes information around a number of existing databases, what is not clear is whether these existing databases will have the necessary security to ensure that this personal data cannot be compromised.

"While the government has done the right thing by acknowledging the vast flaws in its original proposals, it now faces an almost impossible challenge to build trust. The scheme has become poisoned inside and outside Whitehall," he said in a statement.

Topics: Networking


Steve Ranger is the UK editor-in-chief of ZDNet and TechRepublic, and has been writing about technology, business and culture for more than a decade. Previously he was the editor of

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