UK spends billions on high-tech IDs, forgets to buy card readers

This has to be one of the dumbest things I’ve heard in a long time. The UK has spent £4.4 billion ($6.6bn US) on a controversial high-tech National Identity Card scheme for the whole country. The card, intended to be issued to government workers first and the general population soon after, would include biometric information such as facial scanning data and fingerprints, encoded onto the card. Sounds great if you’re into the whole Big Brother thing — but they forgot one thing. No police or border station, to say nothing of licensing and job centers, has a machine capable of reading the damn things.

Incredibly, they neglected to include in the budget the absolutely necessary counterpart to the card: the card reader. Like an inexperienced shopper who buys a digital camera but not a computer to view the pictures on, they are now in possession of a far-reaching and complete ID tracking solution that they can in no way use. What a boondoggle!

The official word is that the reader rollout may cost taxpayer money (brilliant, Sherlock) and is not really being pursued that actively. While it would make sense to get a few IDs out there first and then follow up with the readers after six months, perhaps, that was not at all included in the budget and in fact the readers’ manufacturers haven’t been convinced it’s “worth their while” to make the things.

Sure, it’s nowhere near the scale of the national facepalm called the Bailout here in the US, but the foolishness on display here is just staggering.