The government's proposals for ID cards are under fire today from the London School of Economics which estimates the scheme could cost twice as much as the government claims.
The six month study predicts the total cost will be between £10.6bn and £19.2bn rather than the £6bn predicted by the government. This would mean each individual would pay at least £170 per card.
But Tony McNulty, immigration minister, rubbished these figures on the BBC's Today programme. He insisted each card would cost about £93. The government has also dismissed stories in the weekend press that it was planning to sell access to the database to commercial firms to help defray costs.
Apart from expense the LSE has six other concerns about ID cards in their current form. It points out that other national ID schemes have benefitted from having a clear and focussed purpose, unlike Britain's, and that the National Data Register will offer a very tempting target for hackers.
On whether the technology will work the study is blunt: "No scheme on this scale has been undertaken anywhere in the world. Smaller and less ambitious schemes have encountered substantial technological and operational problems that are likely to be amplified in a large-scale national system. The use of biometrics creates particular concerns, because this technology has never been used at such a scale."
On legal concerns about the cards the study says: "In its current form, the Identity Cards Bill appears to be unsafe in law".
The University notes that business will be burdened by the need for ID card readers likely to cost between £200 and £400.
Dr Gus Hosein, a fellow in the Department of Information Systems at LSE, said : "We have proposed an alternative model that we believe to be cheaper, more secure and more effective than the current government proposal. It is important that Parliament gets the chance to consider a range of possible models before the ID Cards Bill is passed."
If none of this worries you then how about news that EDS is reportedly up for the contract? More details on Contractor UK in this story, which reveals that "ID cards are a competency of EDS."
The bill gets its second reading in the House tomorrow.
More details on the LSE website here.®