United Kingdom

In the London School of Economic’s 2005 report on the draft legislation for the UK NID project they expressed the opinion:

“We conclude that the Government is unnecessarily binding the identity card scheme to internationally recognised requirements on passport documents. By doing so, the Government has failed to correctly interpret international standards, generating unnecessary costs, using untested technologies and going well beyond the measures adopted in any other country that seeks to meet international obligations.”

The report then continues with the recommendation that:

“One alternative to the proposed scheme would be to permit a wider range of practical applications for day-to-day dealings with businesses. This scenario would make use of purpose-specific identity technologies that would give consumers a more secure and simple means of accessing commercial organisations in an electronic environment such as the Internet. By offering direct consumer benefits as well as government services, such systems could assist in securing public support for the scheme.”

The report asserts that:

“All identity systems carry consequential dangers as well as potential benefits. Depending on the model used, identity systems may create a range of new and unforeseen problems. These include the failure of systems, unforeseen financial costs, increased security threats and unacceptable imposition on citizens. The success of a national identity system depends on a sensitive, cautious and cooperative approach involving all key stakeholder groups8 including an independent and rolling risk assessment and a regular review of management practices. We are not confident that these conditions have been satisfied in the development of the Identity Cards Bill. The risk of failure in the current proposals is therefore magnified to the point where the scheme should be regarded as a potential danger to the public interest and to the legal rights of individuals.”

The report summarizes the bill as having eight components:

“the National Identification Register, a national identity registration number, the collection of a range of Biometrics such as fingerprints, the national identity card, provision for administrative convergence in the private and public sectors, establishment of legal obligations to disclose personal data, cross notification requirements, and the creation of new crimes and penalties to enforce compliance with the legislation.”

The Identity Card Act 2006 is limited to the same eight components.

In its assessment of the National Identity System, the UK government estimated the one off costs at £0.3bn and annual running costs at £0.4bn.

“The average annual saving from “key monetised benefits by ‘main affected groups’: To individuals: time savings when dealing with government and business. To the public and private sectors: more efficient businesses i.e. quicker, simpler business processes; reduced cost of identity related fraud.”

was estimated at £0.9bn to £1.6bn.

The net effect were to have been annual saving of £0.5bn to £1.2bn.

In a report presented to the House of Commons, they were informed that the consultation process with stakeholders was “unduly limited in scope with unclear evidence gathering objectives”.

It was recommended that:

“the next stage should adopt the approach taken by the US State Department, which created a model that actively encourages broad, open dialogue in pursuit of improved outcomes.”

The messages about the objectives of the scheme were mixed:

“The emphasis placed on different aspirations has varied throughout the life of the scheme and this changing focus has resulted in a lack of clarity regarding the likely technology requirements. For example, whereas originally the focus was on tackling identity fraud, it soon changed to countering terrorism and combatingcrime.”

As a result this created uncertainty for the public and industry alike.

On 25 May 2010, after having spent £292 million, the UK NID system was abolished. In her speech, the Queen gave among the primary reasons being to:

“avoid more than £800 million of ongoing costs (to citizens) over the next ten years which were to be recovered through fees.”

The card was being charged to citizens at £45.

The abolition was a political act reflecting the unpopularity of the National Identity Card.

More at:
An assessment of the UK Identity Cards Bill & its implications
Identity Cards
Identity Card Act 2006
Identity Cards Act Secondary Legislation: An Impact Assessment
Identity cards scheme will be axed 'within 100 days'
Identity Card Technologies: Scientific Advice, Risk and Evidence
London School of Economic’s 2005 report
Manchester launch for ID cards
Queen's Speech: Identity Documents Bill