The government today unveiled its £3.1bn plans for biometric identity cards, with the IT industry insisting its advice will be vital to the success of the project.
The draft ID Cards Bill, published today by Home Secretary David Blunkett, sets out the legislative framework for introducing the cards.
Although details have yet to be finalised, the cards are likely to display a person's name, age and right-to-work status, as well as an individual number. Each card will also contain a unique personal biometric identifier, with the information held on a secure encrypted chip.
"We must take the opportunity offered by new biometric technology which allows for a completely new level of verifying identity," said Blunkett in a statement.
A national identity register will underpin the cards. This central database of personal information will be linked to the biometric cards, and costs for the scheme are estimated at £3.1bn.
Getting advice from the IT industry is essential to ensure a successful introduction of the cards, said John Higgins, director general of IT trade body Intellect.
"We'll be looking at where we can work collectively and sharing best practice for implementing the cards," he added.
Intellect will be meeting with Home Office officials next month to examine the details of the proposals. They will consider the use of biometrics and securing the national identity register.
Elsewhere the Passport Agency has begun biometric trials in London, examining the practicalities of using the technology. It aims to take face, iris and fingerprint records from 10,000 volunteers to help pinpoint which biometric measures are most suited to wide-scale use.
The government estimates that 80 per cent of the economically active population will have an ID card by 2013. But it has included provisions in its draft Bill to make it compulsory to register for a card, a provision that would require consent from both Houses of Parliament.
Members of the public could be required to produce their ID card in order to access to public services, such as healthcare, once the scheme is compulsory.
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