Headlines: December 4th, 2003

The Home Office is looking for 10,000 people to apply for a new type of passport that will contain the core features of a compulsory identity card. The recruitment of volunteers will be managed by MORI to ensure a representative sample of the UK population. The project will run from January to June 2004 and the contractor SchlumbergerSema, will employ fixed, mobile and portable units. Requests to take part in the pioneer project should be e-mailed to trial@mori.com.The pilot will test facial, iris and fingerprint recording and recognition. This biometric data will ultimately become the basis for passports, driving licences and identity cards. Each volunteer will receive a personalised smart card carrying both printed and electronic information. The trial will be used to increase understanding of how the enrolment of biometrics will work, what it will cost, and how our customers will react. It is planned that passports incorporating a chip holding a facial biometric will be issued from mid-2005.

The identity card, which earlier was trailed as an entitlement card, will be important to public services. It will make it possible to check identity against a document to ensure that the holder is the person it was issued to e.g. comparing the facial image on the identity card against the person or against the database. It will also be possible to compare biometric data against a database to verify a person’s identity. This check would reveal any previous application and prevent the use of different identities.

It is planned to start introducing identity cards on a phased basis from 2007/08. Together with the incremental roll-out of biometric passports and driving licences, this would mean that 80% of the population could be covered within five years.