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Private enterprise needs to prepare to profit from a national identity scheme

Andrew Hooke
PA Consulting Group
The Daily Telegraph
15 March 2008


There have been claims that Sir James Crosby's independent report for the Treasury on identity assurance (ie, the means of checking identity) undermines government plans for a national scheme. On close inspection, I find this puzzling.

The Crosby report states that significant economic and social advantage is available through "universal" identity-checking schemes, which are also designed to deliver strong national security benefits.

It says that such schemes require a combination of biographic and biometric data, backed by an identity register. It comments that success is linked to individuals being able to assert their identity through "independent" verification factors, whether a token, a fingerprint or a PIN.

There may be a few headline-grabbing differences in the detail, but these aspects are at the core of the Government's proposals. Rather than continue to challenge whether a scheme is needed, we should note Crosby's broad endorsement and encourage constructive debate on the more detailed recommendations.

The report presents a challenge to the private sector. There is an opportunity for those organisations that get their act together and a difficulty for those that do not. The report emphasises the need for "the public and private sectors to work together in identity assurance for their mutual benefit and that of citizens". This need remains.

Andrew Hooke
Chief Operating Officer
PA Consulting Group
London SW1

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