Government proposals for entitlement cards are likely to founder on the rocks of data protection unless further privacy safeguards are introduced.
The Information Commission has said that further legislation is needed if the government's ID card scheme is to satisfy privacy requirements.
Having studied the Home Office plans to introduce smartcards for accessing public services Richard Thomas (pictured), the Information Commissioner, concluded that the current proposals are too vague to meet data protection requirements.
He called for new legislation to be introduced to prevent "function creep", where increasing information is put on the card, eventually making it mandatory to carry identification.
Thomas had "serious concerns" that without such legislation the public risk seeing their privacy eroded by increased state monitoring.
Proposals to use a database based on data from the UK Passport Service and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency also came in for criticism from Thomas, who described such information as being of "questionable quality".
Home secretary David Blunkett launched the consultation process on the entitlement card proposals last July.
The proposed cards would contain personal information including name and address, and biometric details such as an iris scan or fingerprints. The cards would entitle the holder to public services such as benefits and library access.
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