The big question: Should the new home secretary press ahead with the introduction of identity cards?

The Big Question is a new initiative between Computer Weekly and recruitment consultancy PSD. Each week we will put the Big Question to top IT professionals to get their take on a current talking point.

    • 42% Yes
    • 58% No

IT professionals appear split over the introduction of identity cards, with slightly more coming out against the planned scheme than in support of its introduction.

The government’s poor record in delivering against major IT projects was widely commented on, as was the likely cost of implementation, which respondents said need to be measured against provable benefits.

“It is a very expensive exercise and unless the benefits can be realised and the flaws in the system minimised, the expense will be very hard to justify,” said one IT consultant.

“In theory, national identity cards sound like a good idea, but I am concerned their flaws will be exposed very quickly, potentially rendering them redundant.”

Alongside doubts over the viability, cost and security of the technology, respondents were also concerned about the potential threat posed to civil liberties.

Austin Brann, an internet consultant at Clipstone Media, said he felt there was the potential for misuse by government bodies.

Others pointed out that the justification for introducing the cards rested on issues of national security and the terrorist threat, but noted that identity cards had not been proven to be an effective tool in preventing terrorism.

“Spain has employed a compulsory ID card scheme for years, yet it is most certainly not free of terrorism,” noted one respondent. “France, Germany and Italy all have similar issues with their schemes.”

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