Maperley is a Govt. supplier already, many govt. suppliers are ultimately owned by foreign companies. For example, Fujitsu, EDS, IBM are all much more likely have access to NIR data in the future as they are likely to be in the running for the contracts and are all foreign owned. Attacking Maperley because they are foreign owned does not seem to add much to the argument against ID cards.
It seems similar to attacking privatisation in the NHS; without the private sector there would be very few advances in drug treatment as it takes the world market to recoup the costs of development.
Thanks for your point realist. Firstly, I'll just agree to disagree with you about NHS privatisation, so we don't go OT (let's just get rid of ID cards without getting into side-arguments).
I'm not pointing out foreign ownership as an issue, but ownership by anyone who evades UK corporation tax. Mapeley could well be wholly-owned by UK nationals through their offshore golem: the point would still remain that it's offensively unjust to ask people to pay large amounts of money in the name of national interest and national security, only for that money to then be squirelled offshore by people powerful enough and rich enough to avoid paying the taxes that we do.
It's a rational point, about the enormous costs of this scheme, which could be offset by tax revenues on all the extra economic activity it entails (processing staff, import/manufacture of biometric machinery, IT personnel, and most importantly in this case: profits). It's also an emotional point, in that the system clearly becomes not "our" system, run by British people like us in our and their interests, but clearly a system run by "them" - people who blithely ignore the rules we have to live by, while we're bombarded with propaganda about the guy next to you in the pub and how he's probably an illegal worker/pirate DVD-presser/terrorist/six-headed child-abuser from Mars with tentacles.
I'm certainly going to use this argument on the street. My first reaction to this news was "no way - how can they? Can they be that politically moronic? Do they think we're complete idiots?".
On foreign ownership, I personally believe that a system of such national importance as this should not be foreign-owned. But you make the very realistic point that it would be hard to find any large supplier of this kind of system who was "pure" in this respect.