Privacy campaigners are urging people not to participate in a Home Office biometric passport trial due to take place this year.
Home Office officials have confirmed that the UK Passport Service intends to run a trial of biometric testing, in an as yet unnamed town with a population of around 10,000.
A spokeswoman for the Home Office told vnunet.com that the trial would help establish the efficacy of methods such as fingerprint reading, iris scanning and facial recognition in verifying identity.
The trial is intended to speed the introduction of new passports. But privacy campaigners have warned that it will be used to push through the government's controversial plans for a national identity card, and have urged people not to participate.
"Without cooperation, the trial cannot proceed. So my advice is: don't participate," said Ian Brown, director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.
The government will need to introduce new legislation before it can introduce ID cards, but it could use the biometric passport trial to prove the technology.
The Home Office has been reluctant to release details of the trial. But a spokeswoman confirmed that it would not be based on passport renewals, meaning that the public would be asked to submit biometric data voluntarily.
When asked why the public would do so, the Home Office spokeswoman replied: "For the good of the future passport service."
But public support is unlikely to be forthcoming, according to Brown.
"The whole process, since home secretary David Blunkett announced the plans, has been frankly Orwellian," he said.
"First they try to play down the requirement to hold the card; then the government ignores the responses to its consultation exercise. People are against holding these cards."
The trials come on the back of fresh government initiatives to pave the way for greater acceptance of biometric testing.
In July, the government announced plans to use biometric screening on all immigration applicants from Sri Lanka. It now plans to extend this scheme.
"Biometrics can play a big part in tackling illegal immigration and abuse of our asylum system," said David Blunkett in a statement.
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