A row is brewing over how effective are the biometric technologies that could be used in the national identity cards the government wants to roll out in the next few years.
Plans to introduce ID cards included in the Queen's Speech highlight the government's determination to deploy this form of identification.
But a number of experts have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the biometric technologies on which ID cards will rely.
The technologies are still immature, they claim, and adopting them could cause more problems than they are designed to solve.
Simon Davies, an expert in information systems at the London School of Economics, and director of Privacy International, was reported in the New Scientist as saying that the situation could lead to further fraud because of limited accuracy and the number of people who will need to be identified.
Other critics have warned that because the cards will be seen as very strong proof of identity they will be targeted by organised crime. And unless there is very good security at the point at which the card is created, there is a danger imposters could pose as genuine citizens.
But according to Steve Everhard, chief executive at technology firm Multos, the ineffectiveness of biometric technologies has been exagerated and the problems of fraud can be minimised.
Multos, which developed ID cards for Hong Kong citizens, claimed that the system ensures personal privacy and that the fingerprint technology cannot easily be broken to clone cards.
"As long as the government introduces a robust registration process, ID cards can offer real benefits," said Everhard.
"The cards used in Hong Kong use thumbprints as well as a Pin number, and they have worked without problems.
"Will they stop terrorists? I somehow doubt it because the people involved in 9/11 were already there legitimately."
Everhard's views regarding fingerprints were backed up by the Police Information Technology Organisation (Pito) which pointed out that the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (Nafis) database it developed has been used by the police for years.
"People are right to be wary about less well-established biometrics such as iris scans," said a spokesman for Pito.
"But police forces have been using Nafis for a long time and it is well established and used in court cases. But we do need standards for less common biometric technologies."
The government intends publish a draft bill in next year and it is likely that information currently stored by the Passport Agency and the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency will be combined to form the heart of any national identity database.
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