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ID plans powers set to widen

Francis Elliott / London Independent | August 6 2006

Gordon Brown is considering exploiting the commercial potential of the proposed ID scheme in order to fund a massive expansion of the programme, it was reported last night.

The Chancellor, far from being sceptical about the proposed identity card and database, is exploring a range of private-sector applications. He is said to be convinced that biometric ID schemes will be introduced by the private sector, regardless of government decisions.

Standardising the official ID card and any commercial schemes would drive down the cost and enable greater data sharing between police and firms. For example, police could be alerted as soon as a wanted person used a biometric-enabled cash card or even entered a building via an iris-scan door.
Mr Brown has set up a taskforce on identity management under the chairmanship of Sir James Crosby, head of the banking giant HBOS. It complements a broader review of public service use of identity information by Sir David Varney.

The Observer quotes a source close to Mr Brown as saying: "There is going to be a key issue over the next 10 to 15 years about identity management right across the public and private sectors."

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