Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Case of mistaken identity over card figures

The LSE replies in the Telegraph to yet more ID report smears from the government:

Sir - What is going on with this so-called "debate" on ID cards? While appearing on the BBC's Hardtalk last week, immigration minister Tony McNulty claimed that, at a recent meeting in the House of Lords, the LSE had "admitted" that its estimate of the cost of ID cards was "hopelessly wrong". We made no such statement, and no one who attended that meeting could possibly make that inference.

This is typical of how debate over ID cards has degenerated into grand-standing and misrepresentation. With some minor adjustments, we stand by the figures we published in our June report. The reason our calculations differ from those of the Home Office is that we focused on the cost of implementing the scheme across government, while the Home Office estimated merely its own departmental costs.

It is the mission of the department of information systems at the LSE to be at the centre of academic research into any technological initiative that will have a major effect on the population. Having our position misrepresented by ministers will not deflect us from that position. So please, no more nonsense over figures. Let's get on with the real debate about the impact of this proposal on the nation, its effect on the lives of its citizens, and whether the systems stand any chance of functioning at an acceptable level.

Prof Ian Angell, Convenor, Information Systems, LSE, London WC2

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