The event, which organisers said has been boycotted by the home secretary and Home Office officials, is the first public debate on ID cards since the government published the ID Card Bill last month.
Paul Whitehouse, former chief constable at Sussex Police, will use the conference at the London School of Economics to challenge government claims that ID cards will help the police fight crime. "I do not believe that ID cards will help the police," he told Computer Weekly.
Ross Anderson, head of the computer laboratory at Cambridge University, said the business case proposed by the government was "vapid". "Biometrics are not as straightforward or robust to use as the government seems to think," he said.
Peter Williamson, president of the Law Society, is also expected to use the meeting to question the effectiveness of the scheme.
"If the intention is to combat identity fraud, we believe the scheme will not work," he said. "Best practice is to request several checks on identity, rather than encourage reliance on a single card."
Mark Oaten, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, called into question the prospect of the success of the project, given the government's past record on IT projects.
Jonathan Bamford, the assistant information commissioner, said there were still many serious questions that needed answering about the government's proposals.