British national ID card project draws U.S. firms

More than a dozen U.S. IT companies, such as EDS Corp., Iridian Technologies Inc. and Unisys Corp., are interested in bidding on the United Kingdom's proposed biometric national identity card scheme, according to a
new report by a U.K. non-profit environmental advocacy group.

In recent months, Prime Minister Tony Blair has been promoting his plan to introduce a national identity card by 2008 to combat identity fraud, reduce illegal immigration and guard against terrorism. The government estimates the cost of the ID documents at about $11 billion.

The ID Card bill gained support in the House of Commons Feb. 13. A majority voted in favor of requiring citizens to register their personal and biometric details on a National Identity Register when applying for or renewing passports and other identity documents. The bill now goes to the House of Lords for more votes.

In the report, more than a third of the 47 companies listed as interested parties are from the United States, according to Corporate Watch. Most of the companies on the list are in the United Kingdom or Europe.

Several U.S.-based potential bidders, including Cogent Systems Inc., Datacard Group, EDS, IBM Corp., Identix Inc., Lasercard Corp. and Unisys, have met with British government officials to discuss the identity card plans, the study said. Other firms have expressed interest in the press or by other means.

Other U.S. companies that appear to be interested include CoreStreet Ltd., Computer Sciences Corp., Daon, Iridian Technologies Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Viisage Technology Inc., the report said.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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