The UK public may have to accept the use of ID cards if the electronic delivery of government services is to be successful, according to Alex Allan, the Government's e-envoy.
Speaking in Washington, Allan said the problem of ID cards or identity numbers will have to be addressed soon if the Government is to meet its targets of getting government services online by 2005.
"As we move more and more into transactions over the Internet we need to have reliable systems of identifying people," he said.
Singapore and Finland issue unique IDs, smartcards and digital signatures to all their citizens with few problems said Allan, but the UK and the US face difficulty.
"The private sector may come up with solutions but these seem slow in arriving and we are going to have to address this issue soon," said the e-envoy.
Earlier this year Computer Weekly revealed that the Passport Agency was developing proposals to introduce a photocard passport that could lay the basis of a "smart" national identity card, with encrypted personal data and a digital photograph.