Businesses are unlikely to invest in equipment to read the newly announced ID cards for foreign nationals as too few people will be issued with them, believes LSE academic Dr Edgar Whitley.
The new cards, due to be issued in November, will only be given to foreign workers, foreign students and foreign people claiming a right to stay through marriage.
Dr Whitley (pictured right), reader in information systems and team member of the LSE Identity Project explains why this will be a problem:
'With the new cards being issued to a relatively small number of individuals in the first instance, it is unlikely that many employers and universities will rush to invest in the necessary systems to perform formal checks and will simply perform visual inspections of the cards in much the same way as they do for the existing paper documents these individuals are currently required to present.'
Dr Whitley goes on to say that this latest announcement should not distract the public from the larger debate: 'Today's announcement should not focus attention away from the intrusive, high-risk technological infrastructure that is planned for the UK's National Identity Card Scheme.
'Many of the benefits that the government claims for the scheme, in terms of addressing identity fraud and illegal working, are not to do with a plastic card but will only really come about if and when the personal details of large numbers of the UK population are stored on the National Identity Register and once online verification of cards and biometrics becomes a regular activity.
'All the indications are that this is still a long way off.'
For LSE research and reports on the Identity Cards Scheme visit http://identityproject.lse.ac.uk
25 September 2008